This week I attended the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. Today I was on a panel about social learning. In the spirit of that presentation and #lrnchat, I wanted to share the biggest thing I learned at this conference.
No matter what anyone tells you, no one really has a clue how to “do” social in the enterprise.
Here’s why I say that:
There is way too much posturing and selling from vendors
There seem to be two vendor camps (which are pretty traditional tech camps I think):
- Buy one application to rule them all. Let it sit on top on top of all your current business apps, and create social using this one application.
- Pay a consultant to create apps for a custom social layer between social apps and business apps
My take-away is that there seems to be a gold rush going between vendors and consultancy firms to gain mind share about the best way to create and manage this social layer.
No one is talking about practical ways to architect social solutions
No one talked about existing legacy applications, in fact many vendors mocked and belittled existing business tools. But content live in these tools. Relationships, histories, cultural breadcrumbs live in these tools.
What are vendors and consultants doing to help companies leverage current long-standing applications in the enterprise, such as email, LMS, and CMS? What should people be thinking of when architecting a social solution? Its not enough to show a loud snazzy video and tell us how sexy a community is, and how we should have that instead of stodgy, old-fashioned email.
Give the digital native crap a rest. Seriously.
I’m not a boomer. I’m not a so-called digital native. I’m a gen-xer. I get this technology because of my credentials:
- Education: BS Information Science, minor in sociology, MS Instructional Systems
- Paid experience: technical trainer, technical training developer, build and release manager, web administrator, systems administrator
- Volunteer experience: f2f and digital community building in college, for parent organizations, for local environmental and disability organizations
People in my generation have been building and refining these digital systems for about a decade. We understand the technical, political, and social challenges. We are the practioners who are actually getting this work done. Want us to trust you? Stop forgetting we may actually be the key audience you need to reach.
Even worse, look at this from a social community vantage point. By focusing on the 20-somethings, you leave out the older generation who are perfectly able to use social networks to share their life lessons with the rest of us. This whole sharing and learning idea is not just for these yuppie kids right out of college, we should be able to harness 2.0 power to connect the world. Seriously people, think bigger!
What I’d like to see…
I’d like to see a Web 2.0 conference for practioners. I want to get down in the weeds about psychology, ethonography, sociology, APIs, build vs buy, customize vs wait for a platform change, etc. I want these technical details to be able to make more informed decisions.
I’d like to see a support matrix for current business applications and social software. I know I’ll be doing lots of reading about open social, I’m hoping part of this open movement is having vendors be open about their roadmaps and inter-operability with other business applications.