We appear to be living in two economies with very different stories. One is the traditional economy, currently in the doldrums, and the other is our social economy, rising in value and importance, which is redefining how the traditional one works.
Social computing includes social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter); you are my friend, you are my partner and you are my future employee. But social computing is a much broader concept. It includes all the tools that facilitate communications, networking, sharing and collaborating (SharePoint, Lync, Exchange and even the simultaneous co-authoring of Office documents). The terminology like the technology is still evolving so we have license in the definitions we employ.
Even Avatar Kinect, the virtual meeting technology that allows us to have online meetings with anyone, anywhere, anytime, represented by our own avatar, is a part of the social economy that could add new value to the traditional one.
Social computing, like so many parts of the techworld, is an eco-system empowered by the cloud that touches and often gives new meaning to other eco-systems around it.
What impact will this social economy have on the traditional one?
It will make it work more efficiently; improve growth and accelerate wealth and capital creation. But the rules of engagement in the traditional economy are almost the opposite of those in the social one. Witness the agony many firms are experiencing with their staff on the use of social networking.
The traditional economy works on the concept of the corporation as its center. But, in the social economy, individuals become more important whether they live and work inside or outside the corporation. Economic power and social influence has shifted from corporations to individuals. The individual is more in charge now. Corporations may have to rethink their approach to customers and employees, satisfying their needs and leveraging their skills in very different ways often by enabling and empowering them; not just selling to them and telling them what to do.
Thus, social computing can make leaders of us all.
Rather than two economies, we have one in transition from closed and competing cultures to open and collaborative ones. Our old economy is suffering from low growth and diminishing returns – a workforce as depressed as the economy. Our new social one promises the exact opposite, bringing a new sense of passion back to the workplace.