Last Wednesday I spent most of the day at Online Information, the world’s no.1 event for online content and information management solutions, in Olympia, London. Alright, that’s a receipe for corporate-style boredom but I got to me meet and talk to several interesting people.
In the morning, I was chairing a panel with an impressive line up of people talking about Social Software - Delivering value to 21st century organisation. Alex Bellinger, Ewan McIntosh, Rob Scoble and Ben Edwards were discussing pretty much anything related to that.
My intro was simply deconstruction the title of the panel. What does social software mean? What is a 21st century organisation? What kind of value are we talking about? And can it be ‘delivered’? Perhaps it is no longer about ‘delivering’ but about enabling, introducing, optimising, sharing, innovating and gasp, inspiring…
The main focus for me was value and the objective was to give the audience ideas of where to look for the value of social media/software within their organisations. It may be that the value they bring is not vague or hard to identify but that it is multi-dimensional. Perhaps it manifests itself in several areas which do not correspond to the silos so beloved of business structures.
How about the following framework for where to find the value social media and social software brings?
Individual empowerment - helps individual employees with their tasks and everyday job; easier information managenent via RSS, tagging, social bookmarking for example, awareness of people within the organisation via their blogs etc
Organisational empowerment - enables the organisation to do, connect, carry out functions that were not possible before; communications and information flow, exnternal engagement of markets, community, media, customers etc.
Specific level - projects that are easier and faster carried out, e.g. using a wiki to organise an event or collaboratively produce a manual, or using a blog to document a project etc.
Systemic level - processes that emerge as a result of extended use of social media/software. People making connections that speed up existing processes and/or give rise to new ones. Communication channels and networks that overlay the silos and dysfunctional processes. Innovation and creativity that would not manifest themselves otherwise.
There was another panel with the same people (plus Matt Locke who couldn’t join us in the morning), this time chaired by Phil Bradley. Phil was a lot more strict than I as the moderator, especially needed as there were two more people in the conversation. I do prefer ‘conversational’ panels to powerpoint and it was good to see people thinking on their feet. I hope to talk to them again, there seem to be more and more people around who understand what will drive the changes inside organisations.
In between the two panels at Online Information I rushed off to another conference, Click Forum 2006 (Creative Review’s 2nd Annual European Online Creative Advertising Forum). It was taking place in Parsons Green, not too far from Olympia. There I joined the panel about Blogs, online communities and interactive environments. I particularly enjoyed meeting Tim Ryan, director brand marketing at AOL. He very kindly gave me a lift back to Online Information, in the car we have frantically talked about the state of the media industry and the future of agencies and marketing. Suffice to say that we agreed, make of it what you will, dear reader.
After all the conferences, it was off to a London Girl Geek Dinner, where the Scobles were guests of honour. It was a long day with social media overload but well worth it.
cross-posted from Media Influencer