... that is how an FT article about social networking and media in workplace begins. I do not normally link to subscription sources but this article was too good to miss and I’ll quote the bits that make the main points.
The next wave in office productivity, represented by wikis (editable websites), blogs and other social networking technologies, is here. Experts say these tools will transform the way work is done by encouraging new types of collaboration.
This is a point I have been making for some time. It’s difficult to demonstrate the benefits of wikis and blogs (and tagging) to companies who operate on measurement and metrics only. The thing about the whole Web 2.0 (before it became an annoying buzzword) is that you cannot foresee what impact the activity of many individuals will have on the network and its dynamics. Many people doing their own ‘thing’ - blogging, organising events via wikis, uploading photos, bookmarking web pages, aggregating their knowledge, etc, give rise to phenomena that leave most business types scratching their heads, wondering what it all means. Well, it’s the emergent, stupid. Nobody could have predicted or planned or justified something like Wikipedia before it happened. As for business applications, the trick is to provide clear parameters to avoid unacceptable risks.
The article mentions some respectable companies such as Google and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein as believers in the brave new world of wikis and blogs.
Every Google employee can create a blog and contribute to the company’s internal wikis. Social technologies play an essential role in keeping the creative juices flowing and also help Google keep track of its rapidly growing numbers of ideas, projects and employees.
More than 450 DrKW employees have internal blogs and the bank has built an internal wiki with more than 2,000 pages which is used by a quarter of its workforce. After just six months, the traffic on the wiki exceeds that on the entire DrKW intranet.
This is what JP Rangaswami says about his experience with blogs and wikis within DrKW:
We recognised early on that these tools would allow us to collaborate more effectively than existing technologies… Using wikis is much more participative and non-threatening, as people can see what other people have suggested…
And most importantly:
Is blogging a good use of company time? They are going to have these conversations anyway – in the lift, for example – and if the topic is boring, people lose interest. It is self-policing.
Indeed, you won’t get the creativity, collaboration and innovation that most businesses profess to want without letting individual employees assert and reclaim their sense of identity and value. And this cannot happen if you box them in metrics, return and objectives that do not take into account the emergent impact of social media and tools.