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Econsultancy's latest Smart Pack: The Social Shift in Internal Communications is about the trends in internal communication that are not just affecting how your customers navigate their social relations and the marketplace, but will determine your working future as well.
The fact is that no one quite knows what revolution is going to happen next in the field of communications, which makes enterprise-level investments a significant risk.
Large corporations that build their own centralized internal social nets often find that obsolescence comes quickly.
Smaller teams who are encouraged to discover and implement their own ad hoc solutions using mass-market products like Yammer, Jive, Google Apps, or Facebook Groups may not routinely share best practices throughout a larger parent organization. In the words of Catherine Glover, Director of Social@Ogilvy, and a featured interview in the new report, "nothing seems to stick".
A popular meme suggests that social media can be 'explained' by reducing it to the actions it conveys. Twitter is used to alert friends to the fact that "I'm eating a donut." Facebook is helpful to let people know that "I like donuts." The suggestion that our underlying behavior - eating donuts - is unchanged is comforting, but not really true. Social media interfaces are profoundly altering just about everything besides the act of chewing: how you find donuts, which donuts you eat, who you eat them with, and et cetera.
This is true not just for consumers, but also for individuals at work, who have to do more important things than eat donuts.
Trying to keep on top of the proliferating array of gold-rush services is a full time job. Minute tweaks reliably generate reams of analysis - because of the low barriers for publication, the mediascape surrounding social media products has become profoundly captured by manufacturer PR. Discerning utility from hype is an arduous challenge.
What happens when companies get it wrong? The Social Shift in Internal Communications features an anonymous interview with a Condé Nast employee who suffered through a failed implementation of an instant messenging platform:
It wasted time because the important stuff, the conclusions of the chatter, were buried within the chatter; and you had to read through backlogs of crap if you were, say, at a meeting for a couple of hours. Also, we couldn't find a way to attach documents, etc.
We didn't use it for that long. The more ridiculous issue is, of course, that we're all sitting within literally 30 or 40 feet of one another.
Whether a given utility is actually useful for your working group is another problem still. This report sets out to discover the best methodologies used for making the right decisions about which internal communications platforms to use.
What we discovered is that successful companies don't chase hype, don't blindly use the most popular products, but carefully choose the solutions that prioritize the employee thought-operations that are most necessary for their organization's triumph.
They are also, sometimes, reorganizing their companies to better maximize new employment structures that have been made possible by technology. Smaller organizations especially have grown to become reliant upon distributed networks of freelancers with talents that can be activated on demand.
Is this the future of work? We're all waiting to find out...