Social Networking and Collaboration are not the same thing

We have watched the social networking world hit an all time high with tools like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn to name a few of the larger players.  Software companies have attempted to capitalize on the social networking trend in the enterprise for the past 8 years (or more) with little traction.  The best we have seen is the introduction of instant messaging in the enterprise several years back.  However micro blogging, and social networking continue to lag behind.

I think the keyword in social networking for the enterprise is the word “social”, have your noticed your facebook and twitter updates include things like:

  • Mood status
  • Faith based encouragements
  • What my kid(s) did this evening
  • Where I am eating lunch
  • Political point of view (usually with a strong bias of who a person does not like or agree with)
  • My plane either landed or is late
  • … again just to name a few

All of which have no business value and leave me no motivation to post on a work related social networking site.  Could you imagine the backlash of posting a mood status that had anything to do with how someone made you feel at work?!

Sure there are creative ways for me to post business related information like events, announcements, business related information, inquires for assistance, etc.  However we must realize the social networking and collaboration are not the same thing.  The real enterprise push is more toward pulling together resources and people (yes arguably a form of social networking), but a much stronger case for collaboration.

There have been many tools in the enterprise that enable collaboration for sometime now including the following;

  • intranet technology (managed and unmanaged content)
  • instant messaging
  • enterprise and desktop search
  • document repositories
  • email
  • web conferencing
  • corporate directories
  • shared calendars
  • mobile devices (phones, tablets, laptops)

The ability to pull these tools together in a common, easy to use solution will enable companies to better collaborate, find resources and people to help them communicate information, share ideas and drive efficiency.  The point is I think the enterprise would benefit more from well defined collaboration strategies instead of social networking initiatives inside company walls, if nothing else due lack of motivation to provide social updates on corporate owned infrastructure and the potential backlash it could cause in the work place.