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‘Social Business’ isn’t dead, but it isn’t enough, either — Stowe Boyd -- Gigaom Research

A recent resurgence of the ‘is Social Business dead?’ meme bubbled over this week in a post by Chris Heuer, and smelling the bacon grease I ran toward the fire, offered up an analysis, and announced a new project, at the same time:

an excerpt

Social business isn’t dead, but it has become tired. It’s not longer even an edgy and emotive alternative to business-as-usual, and partly because of the half he [Heuer] gets wrong or never examines: today’s tools for social business. The world of business has moved ahead to accepting the class of contemporary technologies that embody the slightly better 2013-style of collaborative business, dominated by work management tools from Microsoft, Salesforce, IBM, Jive, and other established enterprise software vendors. To the extent that those tools and the practices that surround them define the social business, then they have become commonplace, not a profound redefinition of working together in new ways.

• What is needed, though, is not a retreat to arguing about the term social business, but a movement forward, a movement embodied as a community of people committed to advancing new principles of learning, organization, leadership, and management, pushing forward into a new future of work. •

In  writings more recent that the January piece Heuer pointed to, I have made a strong case for the following trends, supported by a wide range of research here at GigaOM and other firms:

  1. C-level executives hope to gain another round of productivity from new technologies and practices that are grouped under the loose rubric of ‘social’.
  2. They believe that the mechanisms used in the past — demanding more work from employees, and routinization of work practices — cannot be used again, at least not to get any serious gains.
  3. The answer — if that is a question — is for organizations to adopt a new form factor for business, one that undoes the rules and loosens the ties that make businesses slow to learn, innovate, and respond.
  4. One of the toolsets to apply in this quest for the fast-and-loose business are ideas about working socially and tools to support that. However, the greatest advances are likely to be more closely linked to fundamentals of organizational culture, and the relationship of the individual to work and the organization, rather than a social business breakthrough, per se.

• To the extent that social business was a concept that a community of practitioners hoped would represent or spark a radical break with the past, it has fallen short. •

Perhaps, then, I could restate Heuer’s apocalyptic statement into something more practical and pragmatic: social business isn’t dead, but it isn’t enough, either. And simply getting the meaning of the term straightened out — if such a thing is possible, at this point — won’t add much, either. At the best, there are a set of ideas derived from the social revolution on the web — like pull versus push communication, and the benefits of defaulting to open, not closed, communication — that can be productively applied to make working socially easier and faster.

What is needed, though, is not a retreat to arguing about the term social business, but a movement forward, a movement embodied as a community of people committed to advancing new principles of learning, organization, leadership, and management, pushing forward into a new future of work.

To the extent that social business was a concept that a community of practitioners hoped would represent or spark a radical break with the past, it has fallen short. You can interpret that as a failure of the concept, or a sign of endurance of the mainstream notion of business, or perhaps even as a failed power grab by those most loudly advocating for ‘social business’-led change. But this does not mean that work isn’t changing, or that we do not need even more change — in our organizations and ourselves — in the months and years ahead. We do. It is essential to find new balance in a new normal, where the ground beneath our metaphorical feet is never steady and always shifting.

I am committed to help give such a movement a bit more definition, and in the following weeks I will be laying out some ideas about a loose community of people committed to the investigation of the future of work. I am launching an effort to do that called Chautauqua, named after the adult education movement of late 19th and early 20th century America. I hope to work with local groups across the country and internationally to explore a topic central to the future of work each month, in a model stolen (honestly) from the Pecha Kucha and Creative Mornings movements.

You might want to read the whole piece at GigaOM Research, or visit the Chautauqua site and join up. 

Corporations can be people, and now, cars can be their own drivers

Corporations can be people, and now, cars can be their own drivers

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Agency may have adroitly resolved the notion of driver accountability for the coming smart car future.

It may sound like a ‘through the looking glass’ paradox, but the US National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) has decided — in the face of relentless innovation in driverless vehicles — that cars can be their own drivers. This has enormous…

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Show Your POSHLOVE by Voting Poshmark!

Not only is Poshmark a community of fashion friends who love buying and selling their closets - we also hope that we’re making an impact in Silicon Valley as an e-commerce app!

Voting for Poshmark at the 7th Annual Crunchies Awards is an opportunity for you to show the tech world why you Posh all day everyday.

You <3 Poshmark! How do you vote? It’s super easy! Just follow these steps:

1. Click here to go to the 2013 Crunchies Nomination page.
2a. Type in and nominate “Poshmark” for the following categories:

  • Best Collaborative Consumption Company
  • Best E-Commerce Application
  • Best Mobile Application
  • Best Overall Startup 2013

Type in and nominate “Manish Chandra” for the following categories:

  • Founder of the Year
  • CEO of the Year

3. Share your nominations on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and encourage your friends and other fellow Poshers to vote!

4. Since you can vote for Poshmark once per day until Sunday, December 15th at 11:59PM PST, please continue nominating us and spread the POSHLOVE!

Thank you for all your love and support, Poshers!

Signily keyboard brings sign language to the emoji landscape

Signily keyboard brings sign language to the emoji landscape

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Attempting to create a universal glyph-based language for human beings in the digital age is a noble endeavor. But unfortunately, the entity behind our semi-ubiquitious emoji system, Unicode, sometimes comes up short — forcing us to push the language forward ourselves.

Though members of the deaf and signing communities can, and do, communicate digitally via text and e-mail, there are instances in…

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vimeo

I went to visit Signe Brewster at GigaOM, and flew the DJI Inspire 1 around their office in San Francisco. Wheee!

Q&A about Enterprise Social Networks with IBM

Q&A about Enterprise Social Networks with IBM

IBM sent some questions following the recent IBM Connect conference. They are based on some unwritten assumptions that I disagree with, which will become evident in my response.

Here’s the questions:

  1. What is your definition of a successful social enterprise?
  2. Why do companies consider forming an enterprise-wide social network and what are the biggest benefits?
  3. How are enterprise social…

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Why is Y Combinator giving away its trade secrets for free in a YouTube class?

Why is Y Combinator giving away its trade secrets for free in a YouTube class?

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structureconf.com
Structure Events | Introducing Structure, a new tech events company

Tom Krazit announces the launch of a new tech events company – Structure – that has acquired the conference business of the former Gigaom. He will be Executive Editor, and will be working with Clare Ryan, who’s heading the new company, along with other former Gigaomers.

So, in the same week where Knowingly has rebooted Gigaom Research – with me as the first worker bee, there, as Research Director – Structure is rebooting the Structure event series (see @structureseries). I’ll be following their progress.

Have we seen peak tech? Is it becoming a game only giants can play?

Have we seen peak tech? Is it becoming a game only giants can play?

On Thursday, LinkedIn posted some very disappointing numbers, and the result was a massive bailout on the stock. The companies reported losses and slowing growth led to erasing nearly $11 billion in the professional networking site’s market value. Combined with lowered forecasts for the year, this translated into about 40% drop in the company’s valuation.

Another major collapse in confidence…

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