I don’t know about the rest of you, but pretty much every time I receive a notification about farmville or gangster wars on Facebook, I pretty want to shoot the senders. If they are nieces or nephews, they get some allowances for being kids. But when I get literally 5 or 6 notifications in a row from the same person (who I have worked with at some time or another and is very highly paid) it absolutely drives me crazy. In all honesty, I love most of Facebook. Keeping tabs on people who I have been close to but have either moved away from geographically or just through the cost of time is a wonderful thing. But there are some people out there who I would love to stay connected with, but the only thing I know about them is that they forgot to water plants on their farms (or something like that). I think I would be totally ok with it if I never saw another gaming notification again in my life.
I then think about RSS feeds like many of you already have. I’ll bet you are reading this blog either through a feed-reader or in your inbox. Some way or another, you have requested this text to be sent to you. I’ve never abused my e-mail lists and I couldn’t abuse my RSS subscribers because I have no idea who you are. And that’s a lovely thing. At the end of the day (or beginning in the case of systematicHR) you get a delivery of the goods you requested.
I’ve been talking about enterprise social media quite a bit lately with clients and friends. It’s a complex topic that involves not only the Facebook-like connections with people around your enterprise, but also the collaboration that may occur in blogs and wikis. The power of the enterprise social media cannot be limited to any one of the features, but is an integrated experience that involves all of the above. Lets say you have a talent management program in place at your organization that has internal mobility processes. It would be marvelous if the talent management program could capture data on not only internal candidates who have declared interests through their career paths, but identified candidates based on their activities within enterprise blogs and wikis. Talent managers could find that some of their best knowledge workers in an area didn’t actually get paid for a job in that area. Similarly, if you were interested in a role but were not getting the type of response from your talent managers, you could connect to groups or people who could help steer you into the right career path. Networking is half the battle after all.
The downfall of enterprise social media is in the governance. It could make it really good or really bad. In general, “bad behavior” is fairly limited. Although we see more iffy transactions happening with younger people, most have some amount of self censure and restraint in a work environment. The problem is when the organization does not censure actions when they happen, and questionable behavior becomes customary. The posted pictures of inebriated sales people at the company convention is humorous to many, but not appropriate for the masses. You never really know who your links are linked to, and who is looking at profiles (which are usually totally open behind the firewall). To many, there is no line between posting pictures of the local after work happy hour and the company softball team (and perhaps there shouldn’t be). But not all of our interactions with work people outside of work should be published. Some of it is team building that is great for everyone to know about, and other stuff might be things you really only want to share with the limited group that was involved.
I think we’ve started in the enterprise social media space being a bit too careful. But I also think that we will manage to start to lose attention to it as the technologies start taking a life of their own and we forget that an entirely new generation is starting to enter the workforce. Perhaps I’m old fashioned? (wow – that indeed would be strange). Thoughts?