Business Challenges of the Social Web

by Jay Deragon on 11/17/2007

Business OptimizationAs we examine business opportunities for use of social computing the constant theme of “optimization” revealed itself like a blinding flash of the obvious.Optimization or optimality is a term that refers to:

  • Optimization (mathematics), trying to find maxima and minima of a function
  • Optimization (computer science), improving a system to reduce runtime, bandwidth, memory requirements, or other property of a system; in particular
  • Process optimization, in business and engineering, methodologies for improving the efficiency of a production process
  • The product, service, people and processes of business enterprises rely on productivity, innovation, customers and growth as elements to fuel the future value and sustainability of business. Technology has been used to advance the elements that drive the success of business, however technology has shifted.

    The past use of technology for business purposes has fueled capital expenses to support internal infrastructures, database development and a host of related expenses further fueled by the demand for managerial information. Businesses rely on data for information required to make effective decisions. The frequency of technological changes and the thirst for on demand information has fueled a hyper cycle that drives cost up and productivity down. When you look at the cycle and consider the developments of a systemic social web one can see the potential for a major shift required to remove the inherent sub optimization built by older technology.

    Business Process Sub optimization

    Every business, regardless of industry, has a set of common processes all interacting with people, products and services. These common processes include: selling, purchasing, employing, marketing, manufacturing, servicing, planning, accounting, budgeting etc. All of these processes are driven by data and managed by a host of disparate applications sitting in organizational servers from around the globe. But database applications, the backbone responsible for most of the world’s formal data, are for the most part confined to their owners’ proprietary information “silos”, unable to draw on the Internet’s enormous power to interconnect people, processes, products and services.

    Database applications provide the fuel for decisions for most every type of organization, from global giants of industry to your local dry cleaner. Yet most database applications were not built with the vision of a world totally interconnected through networks provided by the social web. The social web provides an enormous resource of text, data, commerce and multimedia all available at the click of a mouse. Business connectivity to the social web could provide significant advances in the management of interconnected databases which can provide the next generation of intelligent information at substantially less cost that previous models. But are businesses connected to the social web?

    A Problem with Terminology

    Most businesses have yet to comprehend the dynamics, changes and significant impacts of the social web. Part of the problem is the terminology. When we use the term “social web, social networks, social computing” most business mindsets think in terms of how they kids connect and share with friends.

    The word social typical means relations between people, social relations generally, or particular associations among people; interactive systems in communities of populations, or any living organisms. These definitions natural create associations to the word social as being people oriented. However there is much being discussed about the web as being a “living organism” because technological interactions are mimicking intellectual properties of human life.

    When you define “Life” as the property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism we can begin to see how the technology driving the social web is mimicking response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment. The word social has now advanced to mean interaction with people and things. Thus the phrases “social web, social networks and social computing” begin to take on new meaning from a business perspective.

    Earlier we said Every business, regardless of industry, has a set of common processes all interacting with people, products and services”. The social web is driven by advanced technology that connects people and things to everyone, everything, everywhere. Advanced technologies are fueling the interoperability among disparate database applications and to automate manual tasks, integrating them all into a global process that users can access from any Internet connection. The web is getting smarter and the people fueling it are getting more and more creative everyday.

    The shift to the social web by businesses has many barriers besides terminology however the opportunities for optimization will be recognized by industry leaders that will dominate the future business landscape. The business leaders may not be names from our past rather new players already planning the future. After all, who ever heard of Mark Zuckerberg just three years ago?

    What say you?


    Toni August 16, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment.

    I think that you need to publish more on this issue, it may not be a taboo subject but usually folks don’t discuss these issues. To the next! Cheers!!

    Jude November 20, 2007 at 2:52 am

    Fantastic post on business tying down with social web.

    And I believe the opportunities are endless when it comes to associating this circle with businesses. The trend would probably never die too 🙂

    Michael Pokocky November 19, 2007 at 9:40 am

    In her landmark once confidential landmark study The Human Desire Project Melinda Davis reveals in her book The New Culture of Desire: 5 Radical New Strategies That Will Change Your Business and Your Life the startling conclusions of this six year multi-disciplinary study to investigate what makes human beings want what they want and do what they do.
    To Quote her,”This change in desire is, by my lights, the single greatest future-shaping event of our time, the event that may well mark the division between Human History Part I and Human History Part II. This change has come sneaking up on us, catching us mostly unaware and unprepared. As we were looking around for the big news of the future in the world around us–investigating socioeconomic trends, demographic shifts, political revisions and planetary modifications, gazing into the stunning headlights of technology, or struggling to see daylight through the smoke of an exploded architecture of global power–the real revolution has been going on invisibly and near-imperceptibly inside us, in what it is that makes us (and not our mere machines and social structures) tick now…”
    I think big business because they have the money have no choice to invest in ideas that 5 years ago they would not have even considered. The rules of the game have changed and like it or not, willingly or not, big business will be the driving force behind the change that will have major impact on the new economic, social, cultural, environmental, political and spiritual forces that are reshaping all our lives.
    I believe nobody really knows what to do, but the inevitability of dramatic change is upon us and real dollars are what make the world go round. Where once these real dollars were reluctantly invested or not, now big business has no choice but to invest and this new desire to invest has become the new standard of choice of big business willingly.
    The trickle down effect will be the enabler of the transformation on a global scale for all of us to participate as well because the cost of entry barriers will have come down while the opportunities to create new ideas will go up.

    For the book see:

    Comments on this entry are closed.

    { 1 trackback }

    Previous post:

    Next post: