Is the social enterprise relevant to you?

Last week, I listened to SAP’s weekly radio program, In the Cloud with Game-Changers, and the topic was the social enterprise. The program featured a panel of the following very talented social business experts:

The program lasts 56 minutes, but it’s worth listening to if you’re interested in hearing a diversity of opinions on the social enterprise. Personally, one comment in particular stood out to me. The comment came from Dr. Petuohoff and was related to her prediction on where social business would be in five years:

20 percent of businesses that are currently in business [will go] completely out of business, and the businesses that do adopt social business, that become collaborative enterprises, [will increase] their workforce and their revenues and their profits by 100 percent.

By now the social enterprise is an established concept. But, in my view at least, there’s still a question about how relevant it is to our daily work lives–and whether it’s as powerful as Dr. Petouhoff’s statement suggests. How will we know whether a company goes out of business because they didn’t adopt social or because of other reasons (e.g. economic downturn, poor management, loss of market relevance, etc.)?

I recently checked to see what two of my favorite bloggers, Dennis Howlett and Sameer Patel, had to say about the topic. Dennis Howlett, independent software analyst, recently wrote critically of the social enterprise and went so far as to claim that it didn’t exist:

Contrary to what I hear from ‘social anything’ folk, the vast majority of people go to work to get paid and hopefully advance their careers. They’re not sitting around pondering how much better the workplace could be if only they had the latest shiny new social toy.

However, after a bit of reflection, he decided that the social enterprise wasn’t an impossibility and that there was potential for it to succeed. However, he warned that it wouldn’t be easy to accomplish amidst common corporate environments:

The trick is execution [of social business principles] in a world that is driven by quarterly reporting and a dehumanized view of corporate life.

So, at least in Howlett’s view, the social enterprise is a possibility but organizations are resistant to change. However, that may not be the whole story. Patel thinks that many social tools are also not yet aligned with the way to get work done. He thinks that we need to start with the value of merely being better connected. In his words:

until we start to move beyond the general purpose benefits of being more productive and sharing more and collaborating better, to align it with core objectives.

Personally, I tend to agree with Howlett and Patel more than Dr. Petuohoff’s thought that businesses will go under without adopting social. But I want to hear what others think about this topic.

So I recently put together a poll on my website, Software Advice, to ask others how relevant they think the social enterprise is in their daily work lives. If you’re interested in having your voice heard, I encourage you stop by my original article, Social Enterprise: Interesting Concept or Reality?, to take our poll and leave a comment.


Tags: , ,

Categories: Future of work, Human Resources, Social / Collaboration, Strategy

Author:Derek Singleton

Derek joined Software Advice after graduating from Occidental College with a degree in political science. He writes about various topics related to ERP software with particular interest in the manufacturing and distribution software markets. In his spare time he enjoys training in boxing and martial arts.

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  1. McKinsey says social has a long way to go | Successful Workplace - July 29, 2012

    […] Social is a funny thing. While the media hype is perhaps dying down, the debates about social are very, very active. Much of that talk is about where the value really lies or if there truly is value in the concept of a social enterprise. […]

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