Chris Brogan stirred up a hornet’s nest when he posted an article by Dennis Howlett titled Web 2.0- Was It Ever Alive?. The post received dozens of responses and it still stirring people’s opinions and the dialog bleeds on.
The essence of the post was a perspective which started out with “As I look down the speaker list for Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin it’s hard not to yawn. Pretty much the same voices I could have seen at any combination of web conference around the world in 2005, 2006 and 2007. When are we going to hear something new? OK so it’s not all regurgitated stuff but after three years of the most relentless pimping I’ve seen for an idea, are we not a tad worn out with hearing the same stuff? More to the point and despite Forrester’s feel good Groundswell, surely we deserve better?”
Now this exchange is exactly the kind of exchange that is needed to move all this “social stuff” beyond marketing and PR tools and it is refreshing to see someone dare to challenge the mindsets of web 2.0 self appointed gurus. The early adopters may in fact be falling into a trap of “silo thinking supported by their inbred conversations amongst themselves”. Based on the market sentiment we may in fact be headed for a tipping point which helps broaden the perspectives and possibilities of advancing technologies.
Stepping Outside of Marketing
In a previous post titled “What Does Social Media Apply To?” we said “Social Media applies to strategy, learning, understanding and executing, not just marketing.
It appears as though marketers and advertisers are consuming the conversations with methods and madness about social marketing. Businesses are responding and buying the marketing hype while ignoring the fundaments of the landscape of human behavior intersecting with social technologies.
Often we hear business leaders ask about the value gained from all the social computing tools and activities. Many look at social web initiatives as marketing tools while others consider it a means of communicating with various stakeholders. Tomorrows business leaders will look at advanced social computing tools holistically as a means which facilitates operational improvements and breakthrough strategies across all elements of any business.
Every business has a set of common challenges that impact performance which includes both “soft” and “hard” issues requiring constant monitoring, leadership and management methods to achieve improvements. These include:
1. Communication breakdowns
2. Cultural barriers to facilitating improvement
3. Increased demand to deliver higher value to customers
4. Customer and employee retention and acquisition
5. Lowering cost while increasing revenue
6. Satisfying private and public market expectations
7. Removing political barriers that inhibit progress
8. Leveraging technology to improve performance
9. Measuring and monitoring the vital few indicators of progress
10. Anticipating and planning for the future while managing the results of the day
The solutions to these top ten challenges have to do with improvement of methods which need to translate into short and long term results. Business results are a measure of dollars gained or lost as the result of related actions or lack of appropriate actions. Many of the solutions to the top ten challenges are “soft” in that it is more about methods than it is about measuring hard numbers and short term results.
Historically anything having to do with people, culture, communications and satisfaction has been labeled as “soft”. While managing financial results, regardless of actions or methods, has been considered “hard”. The fact is counting or manipulating numbers is a lot easier than managing the “soft issues” that create the numbers. It is difficult for leaders, predominantly male leaders, to both admit and to effectively deal with the “soft issues” because the fundamental elements of the appropriate solutions are essentially socially oriented. Social in that solutions to the top ten challenges require the cooperation, collaboration, consensus and management of “people processes” Most businesses today suffer from social division, internally and externally, between people, purpose and progress.
Devin Stewart, Director, Global Policy Innovations, Carnegie Council writes: “From an ethics point of view, web 2.0 has the potential of dissolving the false divisions between people—whether it is between nations and communities, producers and consumers, or labor and capital. Maybe the real division lies in our minds and in our sight. If we can see all this “social stuff” beyond a marketing tool then maybe others will as well.
What say you?