So Facebook (FB) has been getting plenty of bad press and many of us will be saying we should have called the social network bubble. It remains the case though that Facebook has changed the workplace in a dramatic way which will still be affecting us in a decade’s time. It has changed how work is organized and what we do there. Facebook‘s business in fact might lie inside the enterprise, in future.
If you are looking for a Zuckerberg legacy it will be found there, long before he learns how to use foreign ATMs. Facebook has provoked us into thinking about a social work place and its impact is profound.
At a stretch, I’d also say that poor adaptation to the wave of social in the workplace is a significant part of the European problem right now. As John Stone pointed out in the comments here, many European countries hide behind their language barriers rather than embracing competitive forces.
And what Facebook has done is bring competition down to the people who work for you – us the employees. The Facebook effect might surface in your company through Chatter or Yammer. Or your company might implement an IBM Connections platform or Jive.
These and many more platforms have been defined by Facebook, primarily by the notion that a greater freedom of expression, and greater ease of communications, are central to being more competitive. That promise is taking shape, even though it might be against the backdrop of recession
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had the chance to talk to people on the vendor side of this equation as well as users. On the latter side, The Social Business Council was kind enough to invite me into one of their meetings to quiz the people who implement social inside the business. Thank you Susan Scrupski. On the latter I’ve had a chance to talk with companies like Spredfast and Huddle.
Here are some reflections.
1. Facebook has fragmented the working day. For better or worse employees are now being called upon to be responsive when customers or colleagues need help. The Social Business Council’s members are wrestling with this one. Social means flexible but the workday – the work contract – specifies those fixed hours. In order to do social networking internally companies need to find a new way of relating to employees. That means seeking out the reward structures that will entice them to be on duty longer while making old work-time much more flexible.
2. Spredfast reports that the some of the large companies it deals with operate with as many as 600 social locations – Spredfast provides a platform for companies to manage employee communications via social locations like Facebook and Twitter. The 600 social locations mean companies have to spread social internally, so there is a burden of additional responsibility and an opportunity for more freedom for employees.
But those locations are increasing as companies set up accounts in new countries, and as more employees get engaged. Imagine swapping the old fashioned press release for hundreds of employee-controlled points of contact with customers!
3. Companies have social media policies but don’t have new organizational structures or examples to work off – the burden is falling to the employee rather than the organization, right now. Organizations like Spredfast and the Social Business Council provide different solutions. Spreadfast has a social organizational structure model. The Social Business Council provides peer interaction on solutions. New business ecosystem platforms are also emerging. But more is needed.
4. Huddle is addressing a different emerging need. So you have several thousand employees communicating through social platforms. How do you analyze what they are saying so you can build business value from it? Huddle addresses that.