David Terrar is Executive Director at ITBrix and a well-known true social media expert (his blog) David is going to be the day-moderator at SOMESSO Zurich09 on November 3 this year. Below his views on how companies can bridge the gap between corporate culture and the “web 2.0 society”.
The upcoming SOMESSO for the banking and finance sector aims to bridge the gap between corporate culture and the ‘web 2.0 society’. Why is that important? Why is that necessary? Well, as we progress in to the 21st century, we live at a time of astonishing extremes and rapid change.
Globalisation, climate change, and the explosion of communications and advanced technologies have been followed by the credit crunch that has had such far reaching consequences for our industry. These events have come together to make a perfect storm of complexity. Nowhere is this more evident than in the changing nature of the workplace. The advent of easy access to bandwidth for connectivity, the rise in Cloud Computing giving us instant access to services and infrastructure delivered over the web, and the use of social media tools that enable us to connect and collaborate in new ways are, together, dramatically changing our approach to where, how and who we work with.
At the Cloud Computing World Forum I chaired in London last week, my friend Euan Semple was relating how many of us have grown up with a corporate culture of command and control, and during a time when having an office was a status symbol. The office was where the phone, computer terminal, printer, and other services we needed to do our jobs were located. In our organizations that hierarchical management approach was often mirrored by the IT department, who provided a structured and controlled set of services secure behind the firewall. But in today’s environment, the broadband connections we have at home might actually be faster than the connection we have at the office. We have 24/7 access to some amazing consumer oriented tools that have the potential to help. We can use things like Skype to talk or even video call to friends and family across the other side of the world, effectively for free. Our kids are growing up in a connected world where they communicate with their friends using instant messaging, or social networking sites like Facebook. They talk to each other through forums, and they share photographs, music files, TV programmes online. As that generation comes in to the workplace, they will expect exactly the same kinds of tools to help them do their jobs.
Those of us at the leading edge of this ‘web 2.0′ technology, irrespective of which generation we come from (and that includes all the speakers at the conference) are already using these tools in our day to day working lives. We use blogs and online news sites as information feeds and Wikipedia for research. We connect with friends on Facebook, and work colleagues using LinkedIn and Xing. We collaborate with wikis and in online workspaces. We use micro-blogging tools like Twitter to connect with our extended network, and as one of the key places to look for the ideas that are cool, interesting, and innovative. We share presentation material with Slideshare and photos with Flickr. For us the lines between friends and work colleagues are already beginning to blur and we are in contact with people all over the World on a regular basis. If we work for a company where the IT department has locked down what operates inside the firewall and restricted access to Facebook or Twitter, it doesn’t really bother us that much. We’ve got an iPhone or a Blackberry in our pocket, and we can still get at what we need.
The smart organizations are the ones that realize the power that these kinds of connections and collaboration tools can provide. Rather than putting up roadblocks, they are encouraging adoption of the tools to reduce costs, increase efficiency and make their teams work more effectively. They can see how they can liberate new ideas and get some real ROI. However, they also realize that an organization’s culture may need to change to allow this this kind of team working and cross collaboration to happen. You’ll hear plenty of anecdotes and case studies at the conference, but in my next post I will be offering some examples of banks and financial institutions that are already seeing the benefits of social media tools, as well as highlighting some of the information sources that you should be watching for ideas.
By: David Terrar