The Future of Social Messaging in the Enterprise #e2conf

An eight-person panel discussed how organizations can use social messaging to improve internal and external communication and collaboration. I’m not even going to try to track who says what, since I’ve lost track of who’s who (except for the lone woman on the panel), so just random notes:

  • Unified Communications vendors need to open up their products to allow social messaging to participate. Voice seems to be ignored in Enterprise 2.0 (note that there are no sessions on voice at this conference), but needs to be a part of it. This is especially true when we consider devices such as the iPhone, which is used to participate both through social media and voice. People don’t want think about what tool to use, they want to focus on the problem that they’re trying to solve.
  • Enterprise 2.0 isn’t about giving people “one more thing to do”, but to help make people more effective. This is a big one that I see when trying to get people within my clients to collaborate, often because they don’t give up doing things the old way, so see the new collaboration tools/methods and an additional step rather than a replacement for an old and inefficient way to do things.
  • Social messaging is about forming weak ties, not necessarily about pre-targeted recipients. The ROI may not be obvious up front, but serendipitous discovery of information and people provides unexpected value.
  • We need to stop focusing on the tools and applications, and start focusing on the people and use cases. That is especially obvious in this panel, which still has too much of a tool focus – Marcia Conner from Pistachio Consulting has to keep dragging the conversation back to the people, practices and conversations.
  • The same issues of information security apply to social messaging as to any other form of communications. Social messaging tools don’t equate to information leakage, they just provide another platform for what is likely already happening by voice, email and other methods if you have employees that don’t adhere to your security policies. Governance begins with individuals, and if you can’t trust your employees, you need to monitor their activities. If the corollary is true – that if you monitor your employees’ activities, that means that you don’t trust them – then I see a lot of companies with no trust in the people whom them so carefully recruit and hire. It’s impossible to completely lock down data in any organization, so there needs to be policies (and education about those policies) that lead to self-policing.
  • There is insufficient granularity of presence: with most social platforms, there is a single view of you that is exposed to everyone who you choose to expose it to, and you can’t tune the experience for different audiences. In other words, don’t put anything on Twitter that you wouldn’t want your employer, your competitor or your mother to read. I’ve noticed that although platforms like Facebook are providing tools to allow you to limit what parts of your profile are available to different groups of your contacts, very few people bother to use them.
  • Enterprises matter less; relationships and conversations matter more. Don’t limit yourself to just an enterprise conversation, think about a participatory culture. (I think that I won the Enterprise 2.0 buzzword bingo on that last statement)

These are just the high points; you can check out the Twitter stream for this session or the replay of the video if you want to hear the entire panel.

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