Social Business (at long last!) is getting down to some serious work, allowing knowledge workers to become more effective and productive at what they already do, that is, excel at their jobs.
This insight came after attending the the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference event that took place last week in Boston. A lot has been written in the last few days about some of the major highlights from the event (along with some phenomenal live blogging on the event itself courtesy of rather smart and talented folks like Mary Abraham and Bill Ives), that, if anything, confirmed this growing trend that most of us who have been involved with Social Business for a while now were happy to see finally becoming a reality.
Social Business is Maturing
From my own perspective, there are plenty of different highlights that I can point out to people out there who may be interested in learning more about what happened during those four days the conference event lasted.
For instance, the absolutely wonderful workshop on online community building that both the folks from The Community Roundtable and the Community BackChannel put together that were a culmination of another growing trend from the last couple of years with regards to social networking: communities still *are* one of the major drivers of social software adoption (whether internal or external) and as such, cultivating the art of building and sustaining online communities is becoming a key digital competency skill that knowledge workers can no longer ignore, nor neglect, but fully embrace.
Pair that with the absolutely stunning breakout speaker session done by Catherine Shinners on "Building an Online Community from Strategy, Planning and Launch to Effective Engagement and Adoption" and right there you have got an entire worthwhile adopting methodology on how to nurture your online communities with a business purpose. Worth a look on its own altogether.
It's Time for the Next Step
However, my absolute favorite key major highlight from this year's Enterprise 2.0 conference event were the two different breakout speaker sessions that Alan Lepofsky, along with Yvette Cameron (both VP and Principal Analysts, from Constellation Research), did on leveling up the game for social software.
It's time for social software to begin to discover the path of how it can embed itself into our day to day workflows with much more effectiveness and efficiency, by focusing on those common tasks and activities we keep repeating on a daily basis, but that, in some cases, generate a bunch of business pain points for which social networking tools could be that aspirin to get rid of the headache. Or perhaps that vitamin to help augment an already existing good user experience. Social networking with a clearer than ever business purpose: that is, empower employees to become smarter at what they already do at work, with perhaps a lot less effort involved altogether!
At the same time Alan gave another brilliant dissertation on how in the world of over-sharing with the Social Web out there becoming more and more relevant by the day, there is going to be a time where we may all reach the so-called Social Fatigue, if not already!
Apart from highlighting a-potentially-worth-while-looking-into growing pain, with how we make extensive use of these social technologies to make sense of their overall business purpose, Alan also shared a bunch of hints and tips on how to fight that social fatigue that will surely become rather helpful and insightful to those folks who may be thinking or sensing that they are reaching that point of social exhaustion. Truly fascinating and rather inspiring altogether!
The New Challenge for Social Business
But that's not all of it, because if there is something that I would consider worthwhile highlighting from Alan's presentation, and that was my major takeaway, is that realization that things are going to start getting a bit tougher for Social Business.
Now that we have proved the intrinsic business value of those various social technologies to help cultivate and nurture those personal business relationships, it's time for the business world to be more demanding and request from Enterprise 2.0 to become a bit more resourceful on how it can help businesses grow more effective at what they already do: delight their customers with an even more enhanced exceptional experience.
In this particular scenario Alan coined a new concept under the suggestive heading Social Task Management which will bring us back to what some of us have been saying for a little while already: that Social Business will become a corporate reality as soon as it starts understanding, and fully embracing, how it needs to mix and mingle with our day to day workload, i.e. tasks and activities.
We need to start realizing how social networking for business has now, finally, managed to help converge three key aspects of how we get work done: People (self-organize more and more through networks and communities, versus just the traditional hierarchical structure(s)), Processes (helping them become much more open, public, transparent and agile) and Technology (where new, much improved!, experiences, including mobile, are helping knowledge workers get a better grasp of how social software is finally becoming more of an enabler than an obstacle).
Therefore this combination being pushed up on a massive scale, from the already existing structured business processes (Sales, Marketing, Engineering, Learning, Human Resources, Supply Chain, Customer Support / Service) and those other unstructured processes, like status updates, sharing, Q&A, exception handling (where email has been shining for perhaps far too long!), along with expertise location, provides us with a unique landscape of convergence difficult to ignore, if not embrace altogether.
This is where Social Task Management kicks in to help us achieve our business goals much easier, whether those social technologies are standalone, integrated or native.
In a memorable exercise where the conversation has, finally, shifted away from the rather rich Enterprise 2.0 vendor landscape, here we are at the crossroads for Social Business where the foundation of its core mission, i.e. helping knowledge workers work smarter, not necessarily harder, is taking a new level of engagement.
For the first time in a long while, employees, customers, business partners, along with their competitors and industry analysts, need to realize that while participating and engaging in social networking tools has been very helpful and valuable at helping businesses generate more revenue and profitable growth, we are only now reaching that tipping point where Social Business needs to really prove what it is made off.
Not just from the perspective of getting work done, but from realizing that, all along, it's had the unique opportunity to help reshape the workplace of the future by resurfacing all of those tasks and activities, making them much more open and transparent, evaluating those business pain points we have been suffering for far too long and address and fix each and everyone of them. One step at a time, for sure, but eventually nailing down the work, which is what matters to both employees AND businesses alike in the long run.
Plenty of people have been asking for a couple of years for Social Business to find a purpose, its business purpose. I strongly feel that after attending the Enterprise 2.0 conference last week in Boston and being inspired by both Alan and Yvette, amongst plenty of other thought leaders in the space, we may have, at long last, discovered that purpose. Social Business is rolling up its sleeves and getting dirty, because, whether we like it or not, it is here to stay. For a good while altogether!
Social Task Management: A New Level of Engagement
So, what is out there left to say that we haven't said already, right? Welcome to Social Task Management, I guess! Where the good fun starts!
That unique business purpose behind social networking we have been waiting for all this time and that we are glad it finally arrived. It's been far too long and we just can't wait to continue leveling up the game.
It's time to demonstrate to businesses out there what Social Business is truly capable of: open up the conversations, become more transparent at what we do through observable work, work smarter, not necessarily harder, and all of that with a clear business goal in mind. That goal of delighting our customers with unique exceptional user experiences.
Easier said than done, I bet, but that's essentially the fascinating and exciting journey we have been embarking on throughout the years. Time for us to come forward now, up the game for everyone and continue to execute accordingly! We have just got us all a new mission … Bringing Social Business to the masses!
Ready? Yes, I know, me, too! Let's do it! Task Centric (Social) Computing, here we come!
Editor's Note: You may also be interested in reading this piece by @oscarberg: