Arise, enterprise social champion

KnightingI couldn’t sleep last night. Something to do with too much Red Bull.

Anyway, I digress because my mind wandered to the subject of managing unstructured, ad hoc and mainly paper/ email based processes that are mainly in the domain of the “Knowledge Worker” and then it dawned on me that there is another community of people who are starting to emerge with Enterprise Social and the collaborative layer: the “Social Worker”. Now it’s a little unfortunate that the term already exists in a different context and the meaning and connotations associated with don’t relate but bear with me.

Social Workers are those whose primary domain is to interact within the internal enterprise and externally with suppliers and customers using social and collaborative software and techniques. This includes social workflow, gamification and anything else enabled in the same way akin to the employee engagement vision. They may sit anywhere in the organization, perform very different roles and hold varying titles in the hierarchy, again much like a Knowledge Worker would, but their skill set is very much in leveraging the power of collaboration in a more cohesive and holistic way than just simple interaction.

You could argue that eventually everyone will become a “social” worker in time because we’ll all be interacting a lot more and the collaborative layer will be the very fabric throughout every organization and SOA will no longer be ‘Service’ Oriented Architecture but replaced with Social Oriented Architecture, but these guys it will be part of their every day life non-stop rather than ad hoc. Could we have Enterprise Social or Social Business Champions ? Who knows.

And where that leads to is back to my argument on traditional hierarchy vs. flexible community based enterprise models. Because Knowledge Workers and Social Workers are not bound by silos, their work cuts across boundaries, they sit anywhere, interact with who they need to no matter what level. Social becomes the strands between them all, not org structures.

The upshot ?

  • Social is becoming a glue between market segments; ECM, CRM, BPM, the lines are converging because social is bringing them together, it’s something far more than just collaborative software
  • Social has the power to completely render an enterprise structure in a different way, bringing internal resources, suppliers and customers closer together that hierarchy could never achieve.

Social is going to shake things up a lot more than people perhaps realize.

When I spoke about the “social worker” it struck me that all the talk of customer-centric operations and processes are starting to finally come true, it’s just never been the domain of one sector but a combination and with the social enterprise looming fast now is the time to capitalize on this.

Social is bringing new levels of collaboration and transparency across the enterprise from the inside and across the supply chain, CRM is doing exactly the same but as the outward face of the organization, and in the middle is that new type of glue, Social, that seems to allow technical and management convergence of the two areas.

After watching various announcements from enterprise social and gamification vendors it’s apparent that a lot of thought has gone into social software and opening up the doors from the inside but there’s still a lot to be done on the outward path towards the customer to allow them to interact with an organization in the same way. Seamless and transparent interaction have to be the keys in order to create real customer-centricity, a customer should not have to think about who, what, how or why they are engaging.

In order to engage on their level though I feel that internally the enterprise has to transform to be as flexible as possible, that both knowledge workers and social workers will rise to the fore because of the way they interact with the unstructured processes that touch customers and that community based structures will emerge as the business model of the future.

Whether it happens in 1 year or 5 years, this is the just the beginning. The clock has started ticking….

This article originally appeared on BPMRedux in April 2010 and has been lightly edited.

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Categories: Future of work, Process Management, Social / Collaboration

Author:Theo Priestley

"I had more creative ideas from Theo in 6 months than I have had in 6 years from most people." Theo Priestley is one of the most recognised independent technology industry influencers and evangelists, ranking in the Top 100 thought leaders across Virtual/ Augmented Reality, FinTech, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things and future trends. Theo has written insights for Forbes, Wired, The European Magazine, Venturebeat to name a few, and has been interviewed for many online publications including the BBC on his thoughts on technology and the future. A regular paid keynote speaker and panelist at conferences and events, Theo is engaged for his forthright views and isn't afraid to challenge conventional thinking and the marketing hype surrounding the industry when presenting, never pulling punches to get the message across on how technology can be applied to improve business and the customer experience. He has also successfully organised and run TEDx and Ignite events. Highly active across social networks, he sits in the Top 1% for social media engagement on Kred and Klout and is constantly sharing articles and his analysis that he feels his audience would be interested in. Theo is also active in the startup community, mentoring within UK and US accelerators and sits on a number of advisory boards. Former VP and Chief Technology Evangelist at a Top 25 European enterprise software company with a career spanning both innovation strategy and delivery of software and business change in Financial Services, and as an independent technology industry analyst. Follow Theo on Twitter @tprstly or connect here directly for constant insights on tech and marketing trends. • Top 1% Influencer on Kred (915) • Top 1% Influencer on Klout (70+) • 12,000+ Followers on LinkedIn • 13,000+ Followers on Twitter • Recognised Top Influencer in AI, Virtual/ Augmented Reality, Fintech, IOT and Wearable Tech, Big Data and Analytics.

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One Comment on “Arise, enterprise social champion”

  1. January 21, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    Theo, as I read this, the thing that struck me is that there are specific profiles for these two people in my organization.

    The “Knowledge Worker” is that person that everyone asks when they want to find some information. They know the organizational knowledge better than anyone, can bring it together with context in any situation to serve a clients needs, they understand how to tell the story using data and information. They can see patterns and react to better serve the organization and the customer. But, they seldom ever leave the realm of “knowledge”.

    The “Social Worker” is the person everyone goes to when they want to get something done across the enterprise. They know the social structure, who to involve, who will be the toughest “sell” on the issue at hand. Politics, emotion, how the organization works, etc. They have these things nailed and are masters at just getting it done when the problem is a wicked, cross-organizational problem.

    When these two come together and you have someone that knows where to find the information and how to bring that to bear on an issue in all the different groups and personalities across the organization, that is magical.

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