Trampoline Systems survey on social networking readiness
When we wrote about the Trampoline research on social networking we were a little bit skeptical about the results that were being given. With 88% of respondents saying they were ready to implement social networking in their organization, the number seemed a bit high. And of course we questioned a survey that comes directly from a social networking company. Recently we had an opportunity to discuss the findings a little more with Rebecca Kemp of Trampoline Systems.

What is Enterprise 2.0?

Rebecca told us that even though their survey was conducted at events that focused on technology like social networking, people were still somewhat unsure what really comprised the Enterprise 2.0 scope. "Although we did the surveys at events focusing on the area of technology we operate in, the attendees varied very much in levels of understanding of, and confidence in, the technologies currently being called 'enterprise 2.0'." This is not surprising. It's what the AIIM Market IQ Study on Enterprise 2.0 stated back in late March. "It seems everyone acknowledges it and appears to want it, but what exactly β€œit” is β€” is still unclear in the minds of many." Why don't we fully understand what Enterprise 2.0 is? Why can't we clearly define these terms we keep generating and allow organizations to better understand them. How do you develop business and technology strategies around what feels like are highly conceptual terms?

What They Really Wanted to Know

In our article, we talked about balancing this type of vendor survey against those by more neutral analysts -- using that term lightly we might add. Rebecca agreed but stated that Trampoline was focused on finding out some very specific things. "We wanted to gauge enthusiasm for enterprise social networking though so we asked questions about how people feel enterprise social networking would help them at work." "We also asked questions about how people preferred to communicate at work to see if there was a correlation between this and their views on social networking." What we take from this is that surveys done by vendors -- or at least this one by Trampoline -- tend to focus on how technology like social networking can help an organization do business better. These are thoughts and ideas that can go into vendor business strategies for making their solutions better and more suited to actual customer needs. It's interesting to note that the Trampoline survey didn't approach the Gen Y question around social networking. According to Rebecca, who is a Gen Y-er herself "I feel uncomfortable with this type of generalisation being made about my workplace habits based on my age and am currently putting feelers out to find out how others feel about it." We are curious to know if you agree with her.

Are Organizations Ready for Advanced Social Networking Functionality?

Trampoline designs systems for business use. In particular, their SONAR Flightdeck solution is highly focused on providing internal business value. In their survey, although they found social networking was generally of interest across the board, they also found that only those well-versed in the technology were interested in the detailed management, visualization and analytic functionality that the SONAR Flightdeck product has. "It also backs up our hunch that Flightdeck is the more forward-thinking of our products and is a pointer to the direction enterprise social computing will take. That's because it extracts the intelligence contained within information - looking at the big picture contained within millions of fragments of data. That's a substantial step further than technologies like blogs and wikis which are often lumped into "enterprise 2.0" but can also be viewed as new ways for people to publish information."

Is Social Networking Ready for the Organization?

Okay, so maybe the days of the "Expert Employee Directory" are over. They actually seem to be over before most organizations figured out how to actually implement them. We've moved on to social networking technology, today's version of the expert employee directory -- on steroids. But I am not completely convinced anyone really understands why we need them or how to make them successfully work on the inside. We don't even seem to agree that they work for an organization on the outside Organizations do recognize that they need some way to share knowledge internally. Perhaps surveys like Trampoline's provide us better views into what most organizations are really thinking about social computing and more specifically social networking. They do approach a more broader audience than those of Gartner or Forrester, giving us a window into the average organization today. Are we only seeing and understanding the Facebook version of social networking that we can't see the true value this technology may be able to offer? You think you want to implement it -- but tell us -- do you really understand what you are trying to implement, aside from a really cool technology?