“Where has all the social gone?”
That's the title of a recent post from Carol Rozwell, analyst at Gartner, asking if the social media trend has run out of steam.
You know when Gartner declares that a technology buzz term has lost its buzz, this is serious business.
Rozwell, for her part, suggests that business leaders have lost interest in social media (or social networking, if you want to call it that) because its value “seemed nebulous and elusive.” The ROI of social has never been evident. (However, repeated McKinsey studies in the past found it to be quite lucrative to enterprises.)
Social networking in an enterprise context means something far different than the social networking you may do via Facebook with your friends. As Rozwell points out, it tends to only get deployed and pay off when it delivers productivity and innovation.
“Social is a style of working, not the endgame,” she notes. “Workers don’t hang out’ in enterprise social networks because they have nothing better to do. They use the tools if they see an improvement in how they get their work done.”
Also, social networking tends not to be visible as a value delivery mechanism on corporate radar because standard ROI measurements simply don't capture the value social media delivers.
“The reality is that you can’t ROI the future,” Rozwell explains. “By definition, if you are trying something that’s never been done before, you have no baseline to use for measuring ROI. And that’s the point. You should be trying something new and different when what you are doing now needs more than an incremental tweak — it needs a radical do over (or at least a do over.”
There's also an additional element that Rozwell doesn’t mention in her post. Lately, the term “digital enterprise” has been in vogue, and that tends to encompass social networking, and wrap that into cloud and mobile initiatives — successfully engaging customers, creating products and building markets on digital platforms.
Social networking hasn’t gone away — it's now the way business is done. But it's no longer a standalone Twitter project — it is being integrated into the next generation of technology solutions.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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