(Ok. The header may be a little over the top….)
As a long time Twitter user, I strongly believe in the power of microblogging. Twitter has enabled me to build an international network with other online pros who provide excellent daily insights for which I am very thankful. I am not claiming to be an evangelist and sing the 140-character praise at every given moment – all I am saying it that I derive a great deal of value from it. And so do others.
A couple of days ago I read this article about how schools and universities have started taking to Yammer. I would not say that this comes as a surprise to me, but it hadn’t occurred to me that it could be valuable here as well since they’re all on Facebook? Right?
On second thought I immediately started thinking about the implications of this. Today, many companies struggle with the internal social dimension – my own included – and most initiatives are on grassroot level, or at least they have started there. The reason for this struggle comes in many forms and shapes and unfortunately one of these is the Y shape – Why?
Although a good question indeed, and although there is no a single answer, you’d better get on with answering that question if you want to keep up the pace. People like the author of this and the likes of him may have been banging on about this for a long time, but has failed to provide a proper ROI or business case, but the fact is that this is not a clever, flavor of the month idea – this comes from outside. From the web. From the services that people use and find useful. They want to be able to have something similar ‘inside the firewall’ as well.
The best example I can think of is Enterprise search vs. Google. I acknowledge that finding reliable information easily is paramount in any organisation, but with the ascent of Google, the focus on finding information has increased vastly. People today google everything, and they expect to be able to do the same when they are at work. We are leaving the requirements for enterprise search alone here, but I think that it is safe to say that people are not going to be satisfied before they have a Google-like experience at work too. This is not because people have become more demanding – they have just seen an extremely good solution AND it is available for them at home, so why can’t we have Google at work?
Same thing goes for collaborative services like Yammer, SocialCast, etc. People are used to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, etc. from home and now they expect something similar at work. Add to that a generation who will be more and more familiar with these types of services from schools and universities entering the companies. Something is going to happen.
It will not happen over night, but I do find a great deal of comfort in the fact that this change will happen whether we want it or not, and I can’t help but think of a quote from the movie ‘The Matrix’: “Do you hear that Mr. Anderson?… That is the sound of inevitability…”