| Main |

I recently wrote Why conversational skills are needed to create a high-performance, engaged, networked organization, reflecting on an executive roundtable discussion I lead as part of the 21st anniversary celebrations of the Graduate School of Business of the University of New England.

The roundtable was also written up in the Australian Financial Review, which provides a good summary of the discussion in a piece titled Conversation killers: managers who can’t talk the talk.

Interestingly, what the journalist drew out from my contributions was about the rise of microblogging:

Dawson said micro-blogging had soared with employers including Deloitte, the NSW Department of Education and NSW Department of Premier and cabinet using microblogs for internal communication with staff. “Of all the social media platforms microblogging is the most akin to conversation,” he said. “Email is not going to die, but it is reducing,” he said.


The rise of microblogging
I have been reflecting on the quite extraordinary rise of microblogging over the last few years. When I wrote Implementing Enterprise 2.0 in January 2009, I included in the “Tools” section Wikis, Blogs, Social Networks, RSS and Syndication, Social Bookmarking, and Microblogging.

Those were fairly early days and obviously today we would have quite a different frame, not least since the social software platforms originally available in each space have converged to each offer broad, integrated social suites.

However if we consider the individual social tools, there is no question that microblogging has risen the fastest, and is the aspect of social software most on the lips of CEOs who wonder whether they should emulate their peers who have found value in using microblogs.

The major microblogging players
The most prominent players are Yammer, now part of Microsoft, and Salesforce.com’s Chatter, and each have built out from that core to wider functionality. However there are many other participants. Tibco’s Tibbr kicked off the strong shift to “activity streams”, which includes corporate and project activities as well as people’s notes; I wrote about this at Tibbr’s launch.

IBM’s broad-based social platform Connections and platforms that began with specific tools such as wikis and blogs and have now shifted to broader social suites, such as SocialText, Jive, Telligent all include microblogging, while Cisco has introduced Jabber.

Intriguingly, I am hearing that some companies are using Twitter as a free enterprise microblogging platform, using protected accounts.

Why microblogging has flourished
If I had to pick out a single reason as to why microblogging has moved to the heart of enterprise social initiatives, it would be reflected in the quote the AFR used: microblogging is the closest we have to human conversation, which is at the center of organizational value in the knowledge economy.

In a related way, it provides the greatest value for the lowest effort. Most employees initially view social software as additional effort on top of heavy workloads, so have no interest in activities such as blogging that they think will be time-consuming. Contributing to a microblog takes minimal time so is an easy starting point, yet people can quickly see the benefits.

One of my most consistent messages is that high-performance organizations are increasingly driven by the quality of their networks. Microblogs, through their ease of participation and the breadth of their visibility, are excellent facilitators of organizational networks. Staff can easily get a better sense of activities, capabilities, and personalities across the firm. After 15 years of ‘expertise location’ being on the agenda, microblogs are proving to be one of the simplest and best ways to find the relevant expertise in the organization to address a problem or opportunity.

Success and failure
It is instructive how different the success of microblogging initiatives is across companies. In some cases they immediately flourish, providing value that is evident at all levels of the organization. In other situations microblogs fail to take off, fizzle, or simply flatline. Sometimes microblogs get traction in a part of the organization but fail to take root in others.

There are now a fairly well-developed set of organizational capabilities, that I will write about more in another post, on making microblogging work effectively. While some of it is about cultural initiatives, more is about design, in finding the right starting points for microblogging to grow.

Building a fire
Implementing microblogs is like building a fire; you begin with the kindling that moves to twigs and branches and eventually spreads to the central logs of the structure.

Microblogging has been clearly demonstrated to be a central element to building valuable conversations and networks in organizations. It needs to be a central element to building successful social business.

For the most current insights and trends in the living networks, follow @rossdawson on Twitter!

  • http://twitter.com/jimworth Jim Worth

    Nice observations. However, I would include SocialCast as a key player right up there with Yammer. Their features and simplicity set them apart IMHO.

  • http://robscottinsyd.com/ Rob Scott

    Some good points Ross. One of the things I see coming down the track is “Social collisions” – There is a lot of new software (particularly HR cloud based software) that is being delivered with inbuilt social layers. Often the HR software is built around the social layer (eg. setting social objectives), so turning off the feature is often not wise, or even possible is some solutions. Having multiple social layers in an organisation is likely to cause communication confusion and dilute the opportunities social layers offer organisations.

  • JackLinksi

    I respectfully disagree. Look at runaway success of Bitrix24.com this year. Why did it become the fastest growing social enterprise network this year (at least for small businesses)? Because their focus was on jampacking the thing with tools – free CRM, free project manager, free doc management, free IM, etc. What’s Yammer strategy? Internal Twitter. Yammer is only popular in large companies – because they have a shitload of money and a communication director who has to explain his or her six figure salary. But small businesses? They don’t need internal Twitter. They need invoicing. They need time tracking, They need CRM, etc. They need tools to make their life easier. This is why I think you are totally off – Yammer, Chatter, Jive – these are fads. Startups that offer TOOLS for Enterprise 2.0 envirionment – and there are a lot of those – they will win in the end.

AHT GROUP VENTURES & FEATURED CONTENT

http://ahtgroup.com/
http://www.futureexploration.net/
http://rossdawson.com/
http://crowdsourcingresults.com/
http://rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2011/01/zeitgeist-2011-anxiety-mobility-blending-indulgence-immersion-wrath-nudity-and-more.html
http://smetechnologyforum.com/
http://ideavisualization.net/
http://rossdawsonblog.com/
http://rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2010/12/map_of_the_deca.html

About the Blog author

Ross Dawson Photo

Ross Dawson is globally recognized as a leading futurist, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, strategy advisor, and bestselling author. He is Founding Chairman of AHT Group, which consists of 3 companies: consulting, publishing, and ventures firm Advanced Human Technologies, future and strategy firm Future Exploration Network, and events company The Insight Exchange.

Ross is author most recently of Getting Results From Crowds, the prescient Living Networks, which anticipated the social network revolution, the Amazon.com bestseller Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, and Implementing Enterprise 2.0. (click on the links for free chapter downloads). He is based in Sydney and San Francisco with his wife jewellery designer Victoria Buckley and two beautiful young daughters.

Contact me

Twitter

Facebook

Google+

Go to main blog page

FEATURED WEBSITE

RossDason.com

Subscribe

 RSS

Archives