Are you in or are you out? My daughter and her friends use this phrase all the time – for a 6 year old, decisions are pretty straight forward, black or white if you will. There is no “sitting on the fence” – to my daughter, the word “maybe” means No, so the choices are always binary. Yes or No, this or that, now or later. It seems as if when we grow older we lose the ability to keep things simple and when it comes to decisions or pinning an organization down around the question of “Do you see Social Media as being critical for your companies success?”, the answer has been elusive. Up to now, most organizations have been either “in” or “out” in their approach and embracing of social media – sure, many are saying they are looking at it…or evaluating the landscape…or best of all, “We've put together a steering committee to perform a risk and opportunity analysis which will guide our long term strategy.”
I just looked over at my daughter and guess what, she said “It sounds like they're out Daddy.” Well we're about at that point in the adoption curve where once you adopt they won't call you a leader anymore but a follower – and sometimes it's good to be a follower. But normally not. Seth Godin has a way to package a message up in a read-wize chunk – here's what he has to say about being First and Never.
The above is the latest in the well known genre of YouTube videos that shouts from the rooftops how explosive, enabling and game changing the “Connected Social Graph Oriented Internet Enabled Mobile Information Maven” world of ours is being catapulted forward by technology! I've shown variations of these in cramped boardrooms to various audiences – the usual gambit of emotions and responses I and others typically get goes something like this:
– Interest: “Whoa, that's neat, can we do that with Powerpoint?”
– Engagement: “Cool Music….is that what they call Trance?”
– Surprise: “Is that really how much activity there is going on? Now I know what my kids are doing online!”
– Resistance: “But this doesn't really apply to us – who has time for this. Our customers aren't really interested in this…they just want a better, cheaper widget.”
– Complacency: “Some of this might really be interested, but who's going to own this….and legal probably won't let us do it so this isn't a hill worth climbing.”
Well guess what, you don't have to climb any hill anymore because the hill is coming to an enterprise near you. Large ERP vendors like SAP AG (NYSE:SAP) are coming out with Social Networking integration functionality in their current offerings and their long term roadmaps show deep integration, not just to the public social networking systems but internally, across the end-to-end business process cutting through functional silo's and enabling a level of end user collaboration and knowledge management efficiency that today's traditional application stacks quite simply were not designed to provide. One just needs to take a look at SAP's ERP and Corporate Social Media trends resource portal to realize that Social Media is coming to the largest of corporations out there.
In fact it will be very interesting to follow how SAP chooses to follow through on its promise of building a bold and new company, in particular the integration of technologies that promote collaboration and openness in an ecosystem that has been known to be closed and siloed in nature. Our very own Kathleen Lau and Jeff Jedras had a very entertaining exchange of perspectives fresh from the SAP Sapphire conference in Orlando. Having had significant experience with SAP over the years, their Innovation Without Boundaries strategy is certainly long overdue (so perhaps one might say bold). Also seeing the SAP BusinessObjects Explorer for iPad demo and direction the company is taking with providing an open ecosystem with a powerful API that will provide much more straightforward access to the SAP ERP environment – well I'd call that Bold.
So we shall see – time will tell. As Jeff Jedras said, no one wants to be “dull and old” – So is your company ready to try something “bold and new”? I would love to hear what impact if any, social networking has had within your day to day work, your team, department, organization or vertical. What do you think will be happening next? Are you going anything to help educate and prepare your business community or customers for both the journey and opportunities that lie ahead?
And as my daughter and her friends say, most importantly, “Are you in or are you out?”
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