Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Company 2.0

Peter Kim has published an impressive list of 324 companies which use social media for external communication (Benedikt Koehler has published a similar one for German companies, and Jeremyah Owyang has listed companies that were targetted and hit by social media because of an assumed or proven misbehavior). I am sure this list is far from complete but give a good indication of how the corporate world is adapting new technologies.

Some examples of successful application of Web 2.0 tools:

IBM


Blogging: 125 corporate blogs.
Forums: developerWorks.
Microblogging: Smart SOA SocialNetwork ((S3N)) Team on Twitter.
Online video: Rational Heroes machinima videos and Meet Mr. Fong on YouTube.
Podcasting: developerWorks and Social Networking Now.
Social networks: Rational Heroes community space.
Strategy: internal social computing guidelines
Virtual Worlds: IBM Business Center and Rational Software Conference/Hipihi in Second Life.
Wikis: developerWorks.

Not to mention the internal OD work that IBM does with the help of interactive, virtual tools such as its value jams.

Starbucks

Crowdsourcing: My Starbucks Idea, over 50,000 ideas submitted.
Microblogging: Twitter account.


As I have mentioned several times in this blog, the age of virtual change facilitation has just started a few years ago, and most companies still have not seen the value of Web 2.0 for their own enterprise - like it took many companies a couple of years until they understood that they must have a website. Do you know any mid-size or large company that does not have a website nowadays? Likewise, most companies will use some social networking tools in the future.

However, here the choice will me more difficult, as there are plenty of such tools for creating community. Forums, blogs, podcasts and wikis were the first technolgies applied by companies. Meanwhile, mashups (e.g. including Google Maps), micro-blogging (e.g. Twitter), virtual worlds e.g. Second Life) are just some of the applications available.

While these tools have the potential to initiate and support change processes, their introduction becomes a change process by itself. You cannot force people to contribute to a social network on the Web - it only works if they see a compelling reason to do so and have some intrinsic motivation. Reason for employees of a company to blog, podcast, twitter etc. can be indeed manyfold, e.g.

- the desire to learn in communities of practice,
- the potential to engage with customers which in turn might increase a team's performance,
- the possibility to increase one's own knowledge on new media,
- the opportunity to increase one's own reputation and market value,
- the possibility to connect and socialize with co-workers, etc.

The IBM example (324+ blogs) shows that if a company is willing to provide a free space to express, people will do it naturally. ("As they'll tell you themselves, the opinions and interests expressed on IBMers' blogs are their own and don't necessarily represent this company's positions, strategies or views. But that doesn't mean we don't want you to read them! Because they do represent lots of business and technology expertise you can't get from anyone else."). What I like in particular is that the format of the blogs can be chosen individually by the bloggers.

Summarized, in terms of change management, Web 2.0 / social media for companies provide mechanisms for change management; their introduction requires a change management process in turn. Becoming a 21st century corporation might indeed require a cultural shift, and maybe a couple of older board members have had their cultural paradigm changes already...

2 comments:

  1. An interesting afterthought. Jeremiah Owyang writes: Despite that social technologies can improve customer relationships, the risks may be too great for some companies to bear, as a result, some corporations will shy away from allowing employees to have personal brands.

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  2. A second afterthought. Josh Bernoff write from Forrester writes about an interesting piece of research with the title People don't trust company blogs. Only 16% of online consumers who read corporate blogs say they trust them.

    Read more...

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