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Gloomy Future of Social Business Innovation

Social computing has been playing a leading role in discussions around mega computing trends; it is especially hard to ignore the prominence of social sites such as Facebook, twitter, Google+ etc. I believe the freedom of expression, the ability to share opinions as well as to connect with like-minded friends/people has been the prime force in the surge of social computing. Socially Intelligent Computing has helped vendors to generate new revenue streams by analyzing individual or group behavior for target marketing purposes. Such targeted processes or Collaborative Filtering to send focused suggestion of products and services of common interest to people and their connections has now been used  to classify people with common interest and discriminate them or target them in activities  that maybe against the common interest of a group, organization, state or country. Social Networking has created new avenues for law enforcement. Many Facebook posts have been used to catch suspects. Then there is a list of people caught via social media and the role of social media in Arab spring. These are excellent examples of how social computing is helping to build a better society. On the other hand such uses of Social Computing have raised some privacy concerns, fear of being investigated and slow but genuine cautious voicing of opinions and sharing of ideas.

Businees Innovation

These changes happening in the public social computing have deep impact on the business social computing too. In my discussion with business stake holders, there is a common anxiety to purposefully measure the return on investment from social applications within the business.

New Hurdles for Social Business Computing

In my experience Business Social Computing has primarily been used to improve existing business processes and as a Launchpad for innovative ideas.  I have observed that the restrictive nature of voicing out opinions in business environment inherently reduces the participation rate in business social environment as compared to public social domains. Lately, the fear of being watched and being differentiated or discriminated in the public social sites has trickled into businesses. This fear does give a healthy direction and subjective continuation of business discussions, but participation is left to a select few versus the masses in the enterprise. Enterprise wide participation generates ideas for innovation especially in product innovation space / PLM. A lower contribution in business social applications within the organization will make businesses to re-think their social computing strategy as they evaluate the return on their investments.

Recommendations

Here are some recommendations to improve the return on investment from Business Social Computing applications.

  1. Reward for participation; these could be points or score that lead to a monetary or non-monetary benefits.
  2. The top management should reiterate the benefits of Social Business Computing as related to innovation.
  3. Moderate the posts, suggestion and comments before they go live.
  4. Assure the contributors that they would not be penalized for their opinions.
  5. Allocate time for contribution to business discussions in social applications from other business functions, so the top contributors are not discriminated.

 

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