IT’S A DIGITAL LIFE
People in the 21st Century increasingly perceive themselves and each other through their
“digital selves.” The digital self, which can be made up of avatars, blogs, profiles, posts,
tweets, videos, images, statuses, likes, check-ins, badges—and much more—communicates,
transacts, and interacts with others in a “social fabric” of digital existence and coexistence
that connects and unites people around the globe.
While some may denigrate the digital social life and its activities as a waste of time or
unproductive, there’s no denying that the global social fabric has relevance and effect in the
real world. It has helped bring down dictatorships and elect a U.S. president. Millions of
people rely on it to seek or change employment. And the digital economy generates real
wealth—representing a significant and growing proportion of many nations’ GDP and giving
rise to its own digital currency, known as “bitcoins.”
ENTERPRISE SOCIAL FABRIC
Businesses have typically been interested in digital and social networks as an external
channel for driving marketing objectives—to interact with and influence prospects and
customers, promote products, and build their brands. Increasingly, however, companies are
exploring the ways digital social spaces and conventions can be used internally, to create an
“enterprise social fabric” that helps organizations unleash collaboration and innovation,
sharpen competitive insight, and realize new efficiencies.
A vibrant enterprise social fabric can generate new ideas and make new connections among
people, applications, and tools. The digital work space can enable collaboration across
departmental and functional silos, geographic distances, different languages and cultures,
and even the barriers of traditional organizational hierarchies.
Social tools also provide individuals with new ways to organize and keep track of their own
ideas and organize content in more contextual ways to manage today’s information and
CAPTURING INSTITUTIONAL KNOWLEDGE
In addition to realtime collaboration, the enterprise social fabric provides a way to share
knowledge over time. For example, social networks provide a way to capture experience and
know-how and make it accessible to others, so that it’s not lost when an individual retires or
Today’s cost-efficient digital workspaces, information management, storage, and virtual
technologies also make it practical to capture and keep all of the thinking and processes
that go into an effort—not just the end product. Sketches, brainstorming, conversations,
emails—the ideas and decisions that went into a design, a strategy, a product
breakthrough—all can be saved and made available to future teams. A marketing team of
the future, for example, could examine all of the artifacts surrounding a company’s
successful and iconic campaign, executed years before. They could look at how the team
approached the project, developed ideas, and executed them. They could also see ideas,
designs, and copy that were not used for possible re-consideration or inspiration.
WHERE DO YOU START ?
It’s a simple enough process to join the 800 million users on Facebook and start your own
interest group—or to direct employees to begin writing blogs and tweeting. It is, however, a
common misconception that all a company needs to do to create a viable enterprise social
fabric is “plug in” to Twitter or Facebook, or create a YouTube channel of video assets.
There are risks to using third-party public infrastructure to build the enterprise social fabric,
store corporate assets, and share corporate IP. But even more importantly, organizations
need to realize that achieving real business objectives, such as faster time-to-market and
more motivated and productive employees, requires a well-designed social strategy that
encompasses people, technologies, and corporate policies and procedures.
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