Review of Last Week’s Social Business Jam

November 16, 2011 Comments
Review of Last Week’s Social Business Jam
Doc Searls

Image via Wikipedia

A number of luminaries participated in last week’s W3C Social Business Jam, including Doc Searls (image on right), Alex “Sandy” Pentland and the inventor of the web itself, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. A jam is “an online conversation among leaders in business, government and technology about the current state of social business, the future role that social technologies can play in improving the bottom line, and how social technology should evolve in order to support business objectives.”

There were a number of deep conversations, which generated over 1,100 posts on the topic of social business. The key issues explored were:

  • Mobile And Social
  • Business Process Meets Social
  • Identity Management for Social
  • Information Management
  • Seamless Integration of Social
  • Metrics For Social Business

Of the topics covered, a few rich seams emerged. Doc noted that “way back in 1995 we got hooked on the cookie as a way for sites to keep track of our relationships with them. This, along with the login/password ceremony, cemented client-server in place as the default for e-commerce (and everything else) on the Web. This not only legitimized dependent submissive-dominant relationships, but made every site into a silo, and contained our imagination about What Could Be Done as well. This is why every ‘solution,’ it seems, is yet another site/service, each of which is its own silo, even if it has open APIs, uses open standards and the rest of it.”

This is a notable point. If you contrast the key pieces of social media infrastructure today, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, or internal collaboration tools like Yammer and Salesforce.com’s Chatter, all are their own proprietary systems. Contrast this approach to the approach of the most social of all online tools, email, or even the web and the internet itself. In all of the latter cases, a handful of fundamental, interoperable standards have enabled a thousand flowers to bloom. Can you imagine Facebook and Twitter and Google working together to insure that their systems interoperate? Fat chance. (In fact, Facebook just killed one more bit of openness, by deprecating the ability to import RSS feeds from one’s own blog into Facebook Notes.)

In the same thread as Doc’s thinking above, Charles Oppenheimer, the CEO of Prizzm (and a great, great dude who is working on “Reverse CRM” which dovetails nicely with ProjectVRM), noted that “through the history of markets, which I suppose is a lot briefer than human history, markets were the place to be social on a daily basis, and defined our interactions with the community. Especially in rural places, that is the hub. But if we work in the ‘enterprise,’ we are in the business of taking something straightforward, exchange of goods and services – into something that scales, massive, and abstract. Goodbye social, and community — and I guess that is why the web/social technology seems to be a big deal. Bringing the old stuff back.”

This is an important point, in my opinion. Social business, when done right, enables us to play both sides of the fence. We, wearing our “customer” hats, can engage with each other at a human level and, when done right, enterprises can also organize their people and processes in such a way that enables connection with customers at this same human level. It’s not an either-or any more, where interactions with enterprises need to be filled with jargon and a deflection of the “human” in order to operate at scale. Instead, smart businesses are re-tooling their processes in such a way that they can both interact at a human level and do it at scale.

You can check out everything from the Social Business Jam until December 31, 2011, at which time the online archive will no longer be available. (You’ll need to register for the site, which is free.) And of course, if we’re talking about jamming, there is only one sound track that matters…

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