Monday, April 14, 2008

Social Media: Are we Creating Business Value?

I am hooked now into FaceBook,LinkedIn, Ning, Second Life, our internal wikis, email, MSN instant messaging, my blog, my RIM - and I am starting to wonder if I am wasting time trying to stay connected using the latest Web 2.0 Social Media tools and gadgets.

One of the primary reasons I continue to forge ahead and use these social media tools is to research and understand the social phenomenon and impacts that these solutions are having on new business models and then translate this insight into valuable know-how or sense making for our clients at Helix Commerce (

A primary reason that social media applications are top of mind is because of our current community research project focused on The Organization of the Future . This project is also in partnership with CATA, and ITinCanada.

As a result of this sense of overload - and I know I am not alone, we are starting to see another generation of simplification tools like AideRSS and FeedHub - just two examples of software tools trying to reduce the noise and improve our productivity.

The reality is that the information we had access to even just three years ago is 1000x greater now.

What is driving the Social Media and Web 2.0 connection frenzy?

Are we creating a generation of users that feel more lonely as they are more isolated on their computers? Is it because we have brought businesses and home life closer together with the home office concept, so when the kids are in bed, we go back to work? Is it the baby boomer generation's desire to stay hip and be able to communicate with their teenagers?

I asked my fifteen year old son yesterday what he loved most about the social media giant Facebook - he said he loves his Fun Wall where his friends post things like yellow stickies and they make him laugh or smile. What he does not like is the constant sharing of gadgets that his friends email him and he has to decide if he wants them or not. Huge time waster he says, as everyone is just mailing everyone vs being selective.Send to all friends with a quick click is a common stroke that also creates ineffective communication habits.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what is driving the social media tool usage frenzy and your thoughts on their effectiveness and business value? I am most interested in business value vs personal value reasons.

The obvious answers to dealing with social media information overload are: Know what you need and manage your information sources. Using RSS and Yahoo Piples can really help you prioritize where you need to focus your attention. Netvibes is a good RSS reader that helps to organize information into relevant tags and streams.

I suspect the simple truth is knowing what problem you need to solve and using the tools that best meet your needs. In time, many of these toolkits will fade and we will have universal aggregators that simplify our life even further as networks of networks will have the "collective intelligence" to source the most optimal path to meet our needs. The promise of the semantic Web is in line of sight as these social media tools are rapidly evolving our intelligence and know-how as we explore their value and create interaction opportunities that create new innovations and hence discover new meaning.

Just tonight, I was catching up on new social media innovations and I discovered Twine.

Twine enables one click social networking and auto discovery, plus provides a KM and collaboration tool for personal and business use. It is like a superset of today's best social bookmarking sites, it has a better contact management syustem than Facebook, and fills a void between and eHarmony and today is free. Twine founder is Nova Spivack who was behind founding Radar Networks. So tonight after this entry, I will be visiting Tech Crunch on Web 2.0Innovation updates.

As I learn more now I am faced with my curiousity to use Twine....where will I find the your thoughts - Web 2.0 Social Media users - where is this business trend all going to lead us in terms of business productivity and business growth and value creation?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this blog entry, as we are actively researching The Organization of the Future project with ITin Canada, and CATA and one of the research streams is on the impact of Web 2.0 and social media on future organizational business models.

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