Social business is nothing new

(SAN JOSE, CA) “Digital work became more social… but work has always been social,” says Thomas Vander Wal, InfoCloud Solutions, addressing the KM World 2009 conference. “Businesses by nature are social – you need to have people in your organization talking to each other.”

Drivers of social media and enterprise 2.0 include:

  • Office productivity tools are not efficient for collaboration
  • Social tools augment face-to-face
  • Volume of information has grown
  • Gaps in enterprise tools, CMS, and other traditional work tools
  • Individuals are making a difference
  • Ease of sharing & connecting with others
  • Easier knowledge capture

“All of this is similar to e-mail in the 1990s. It was a strange new way of thinking… and now we’re using social tools and saying the same things that we did about email,” adds Vander Wal.

“Social software creates a lot of information – many layers of information. We need tools to understand this information and structure for understanding.”

Vander Wal cites the 1–9–90 rule (Charlene Li) that helps understand the ‘who’ in social media: 1% creates the information; 9% curates it; 90% merely are consumers of the information.


“We’re looking at our intranet and it’s an utter mess. Something is really broken here,” says Thomas, emulating a typical intranet client. “Social media helps fill in some of the gaps in the enterprise tools (example: BBC intranet: 115% wiki use in 7 years).”

When comparing Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 Vander Wal has a clever analogy: Web 2.0 is like tunneling through a mountain (it’s tough to sort out the context in the mass of information, and problems are merely small cracks in a large mass); Enterprise 2.0 is like tunneling under water (it’s easier to get started, but problems quickly become massive problems). “Web 2.0 is about numbers of users, Enterprise 2.0 is about % of users (% of employees using social media).”

Vander Wal encourages the need for “social comfort” for employees:

  • Comfort with others (people to interact & share with)
  • Comfort with tools
  • Comfort with subject matter

“It’s been said that walled gardens are bad for the enterprise, but they give comfort to employees,” says Vander Wal, citing Andrew McAfee’s opening keynote at KM World 2009. “What we really want are comfortable walled gardens with permeable


4 thoughts on “Social business is nothing new”

  1. “What we really want are comfortable walled gardens with permeable walls.”
    Doesn't the workspace model serve this purpose? As in workspaces for groups, teams and projects. I recently did an article on ebizq about the different collaboration models that different software offer, which you might want to take a look at –

  2. Keep in mind that not all organizations are created equal. What works well in one company, doesn't work well at another. IBM has a fantastic intranet, and some terrific enterprise 2.0 / intranet 2.0 tools, but their intranet would be too much at most organizations that aren't as web savvy.

  3. Thanks for taking this opportunity to discuss this, I feel fervently about this and I like learning about this subject. If possible, as you gain information, please update this blog with more information. I have found it really useful.

Comments are closed.