Where Do You Stand on the Social Enterprise?

By Derek Singleton posted 08-01-2012 19:05


A few months ago, indenpendent analyst Dennis Howlett and Dion Hinchcliffe, Executive Vice  of Strategy at the Dachis Group, debated whether the social enterprise was fact or fiction. While some saw the debate as laying to rest to question of the validity of the social enterprise, there is still a variety of opinions out there on the topic. After all, the debate only featured two prominent individual's opinions. 

In my opinion, it's hard to refute that the social enterprise is real. We have entire industries springing up to talk about it and try to operationalize it into business culture. It's a very real concept. The question then is: How relevant is the social enterprise?  After all, something can be real without being relevant. For instance, the ability to answer my email from a smart phone is real, but it's not very relevant to my daily job as I have difficulty avoiding typos and writing emails longer than two sentences. 
I recently went and checked to see what two of my favorite bloggers (Dennis Howlett and Sameer Patel) had to say about the topic. Dennis Howlett, independent software analyst, recently wrote critically of the social enterprise and went so far as to (once more) claim that it didn't exist:
"Contrary to what I hear from 'social anything' folk, the vast majority of people go to work to get paid and hopefully advance their careers. They're not sitting around pondering how much better the workplace could be if only they had the latest shiny new social toy."
However, after a bit of reflection, he decided that the social enterprise was possible and that there was potential for it succeed. However, he warned that it wouldn't be easy to accomplish amidst common corporate environments:
"The trick is execution [of social business principles] in a world that is driven by quarterly reporting and a dehumainsed view of corporate life."
So, at least in Howlett's view, the social enterprise is a possibility but organizations are resistant to change. However, that may not be the whole story. Patel thinks that many social tools are also not yet aligned with the way work gets done. He thinks that we need to start valuing merely being better connected. In his words:
"...until we start to move beyond the general purpose benefits of being more productive and sharing more and collaborating better, to align it with core objectives."
Personally, I tend to agree with Howlett and Patel more than Dr. Petuohoff's thought that businesses will go under without adopting social. But I want to hear what others think about this topic.
To see what others think, I recently put together a poll on my site, Software Advice, to ask others how relevant they think the social enterprise is in their daily work lives. Since this community is full of tech enthusiasts and creative types, I figured you all would have some thoughts to offer. Please come take my poll and leave your thoughts at: Social Enterprise: Interesting Concept or Reality?

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