Social BPM and the signal to noise ratio #SocialBPM #BPM


Early today, I came across a blog post by Gartner’s Jack Santos, Musings: The Amplification of Communication.  Jack recites the maxim, “Sending a message does not necessarily mean it was received” and makes the case that people and the system become worse off for having tried and failed to communicate, “…one can only wonder when the whole trend will hit critical mass and collapse into a new dark age.”

Social learning curve

I can understand his arguments about appropriate use and the problems of duplication. As someone on the sending and receiving side of both traditional and the latest forms of media, I can tell you that it takes some getting used to. I wrote recently about the need to develop a social voice from my own challenges with the apparent signal to noise ratio. I had one false start on Twitter over a year ago before giving it a second shot last year. I get it now.

Turn back the clock?

SOPA and PIPA went down in flames last week, perhaps only temporarily, with many of the vocal opponents like Clay Shirky arguing that the true intent behind limiting piracy was to limit the content people can have to what they buy from media giants. Shirky argues that the reason the big studios and recording companies would like to shut down piracy is a veiled attempt to shut down all file sharing. He supports his arguments by pointing out that the language in the law that would have put Google and others on the hook for any illegal files they hosted or facilitated. Any site that allows posting of media would never be able to guarantee that all of their content is original and not pirated, therefore file sharing would cease to happen, making the studios and record companies the only ones with content. We would go back to the way things were in the days before the Internet when media moguls controlled what everyone consumed. We know who the winners would be.

Mother of invention

My issue with Santos’ contention that we should focus just on effective channels is that it takes away the democratization (great) that is part of the chaos (bad). Whoever owns the decision about what is an “effective channel” would have media mogul-like power to control content…a significant setback. Keep in mind that from the seemingly negative things, we’re finding many new and innovative ways to manage the noise because necessity is the mother of invention. What Santos calls “throwing solutions against the wall to see if communication ‘sticks'” is also the trial and error that leads to innovative ways to do business.

In the end, the duplication and channels will sort themselves out in the grand sifter of relevance. Great content will find its way to the top and trash will settle. What matters is having a single channel that connects everyone, even if one of several options people have (why Facebook is still beating Google). Communication chaos will sort itself out without organizations having to create limits by force.


Categories: Social / Collaboration

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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4 Comments on “Social BPM and the signal to noise ratio #SocialBPM #BPM”

  1. January 26, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    Nice post, Chris. This reminded me of a book I read recently. It is an older book, written at the dawn of Web 2.0 by a group of guys who “got it.” It’s called The Cluetrain Manifesto. The basic premise is this: the Internet is one great big conversation. They contend that what makes the Internet unique is that it allows real people to have real conversations with other real people on a massive scale (much like you, I and anyone else reading our posts are doing now).

    This type of communication is new for most of us. You and I don’t share all the context that a co-worker, friend or family member might share. The only context we share is an assumed understanding of what you were trying to tell me in your writing. Fortunately, I think you’re a good writer, which makes you a good candidate to have a strong voice in this new virtual world. But what of the many people without a strong command of written language? What happens to their voice? Can they express themselves effectively in 143 characters or less?

    I guess they’ll keep trying. Hopefully, they’ll get better at it — or maybe their kids will. Life evolves.

  2. January 26, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    I agree. I’m fortunate that I can write, and unfortunately for those who struggle, their voice will be more muted in the new world until they pick it up.

  3. March 22, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    I’m glad someone else is seeing this, and the mention of the word ‘relevance’ piqued my interest too. It’s not just Social BPM, but the Social Enterprise in general (loathe to use this now Benioff has trademarked the term….sheesh)

    Social enterprise and Enterprise 2.0, organisational and process information can be had at our fingertips, Wikis, internal communication networks, it’s always on. Look at the impact and noise generated out of Salesforce right now as an example of where this is all going, and Benioff’s promise of the social enterprise. The momentum is incredible. But it’s also in danger of imploding very quickly.

    With all this “ambient awareness” in the organisation and beyond do we actually know what to do with this information, what is relevant, and which is actionable to help achieve the goal or task at hand. Indeed, would you even know where to look for the information or know what it looks like when you have everything within your grasp ? You may not be aware of the relevance of what you possess because finding the information to put it all in context isn’t clear or immediately apparent, so how can you look for it ?

    And so the relevance paradox exists: “This occurs when an individual or a group of professionals are unaware of certain essential information which would guide them to make better decisions, and help them avoid inevitable and undesirable consequences. These professionals will seek only the information and advice they believe is the bare minimum amount required as opposed to what they actually need to fully meet their own or the organization’s goals.”

    Another danger is that as social enterprise and bpm software becomes more adaptive to an individual user’s needs, it learns their behaviours, filters the information according to historical data and use, and therefore potentially could deem a vital piece of information as non-critical and fail to deliver it on time…..

    • Tom Bellinson
      March 22, 2012 at 8:50 am #

      I’ve wondered about this issue myself. My company has a product built on SharePoint. Microsoft launched a capability called My Sites in their latest version. It is designed to allow each member of the team to have their own portal. It can contain links to data elsewhere in the system along with information generated by them for…well that’s the question: “for what?” The answer seems to be “for whatever they want.”

      This whole thing reminds me of the early days of corporate Internet access. Back then, people could not afford high speed Internet connections at home. So, they seized any opportunity to exploit the corporate connection for personal use. Companies had to install software to limit access and everyone complained. Some companies still use this software. Many realize that it’s not necessary any longer. Yes, people will always use the office connection for personal use, but only a few will abuse it.

      Social enterprise tools must have a strong operational directive behind them or they will get abused as well. New tools — new challenges. I guess managers will just need to deal with it. Eventually, the novelty will wear off and we can get back to work.

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