Social Tools Will Change Business, but How?

Ann All

In reading a recent Forbes interview with Gartner CIO (cool name alert) Darko Hrelic, I was at first taken with the interviewer's reference to him as a "chief collaboration officer," yet another possible reimagining of the CIO role.


But I was even more interested in Hrelic's admission that Gartner, which I assume is staffed by lots of technology-savvy folks who like to share ideas with each other, has yet to settle on a go-to collaboration tool. Said Hrelic:


We've been actually looking at different social media apps for a couple years. And it's my favorite because I still don't think we've sort of cracked the code ... of what truly can make a difference to the business. Because we've seen quite a few failures where [an app] is used here and there and then just fizzles out. So trying to find a business purpose that you can deploy social media, social technologies around, and then at the end of it comes out a true business value that everybody can totally agree, that's been the challenge and the fun part.


I'm feeling you, Darko. For every company like Cisco, which seems to be reaping big benefits from its use of collaboration tools, including financial ones, there are plenty of others that seemingly haven't quite figured it out. The author of a recent McKinsey study concerning companies' adoption of Enterprise 2.0 technologies believes as many as 80 percent of companies are using such technologies, but only about 20 percent are "pretty much ahead of the curve."


Sadly, our experiences here at IT Business Edge put us behind the curve. (Or perhaps squarely in the middle of it. We've tried several collaboration tools, but like Gartner none of them have seen broad usage.) It's been almost two years since IT Business Edge VP Ken-Hardin wrote about his frustration in trying to get the editorial team to use a hosted collaboration site. Today most of the editorial collaboration continues to occur via IM or e-mail. I've written about companies that have made good use of wikis. Guess what? IT Business Edge isn't one of them.


Yet I agree with Darko Hrelic's statement:


... we're starting to see some core traditional business processes that were done in a certain way for decades that we think all of a sudden via social media can be just done completely differently.


Employee recruitment is one process for which a growing number of companies are using social channels like Facebook and Twitter -- reducing their recruitment costs and finding more qualified candidates, to boot. I'm convinced plenty of clear use cases for collaboration tools will emerge, but I expect it will take time.

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