I read a lot about the use of technology for corporate purposes, and I have to agree with some of the blogophobes. I'd like to see less blind faith, and more discussion of some of the ways social media can help organizations achieve their goals.
I still think the new media advocates have the right idea. We just need to apply the same rigour to the adoption of new technology tools that we would apply to any other important business function.
I was a strong advocate for an intranet/extranet at the trade association I was with about seven years ago. We made a good case for the benefits, and worked out ways the communications within our association, between us and our members, and among our members could be improved through the use of technology. We even involved Shel Holtz, Craig Jolley, Pete Shinbach and Tudor Williams in an examination of the business needs, a consultation process with users, and training on writing for the web.
The financial industry was changing quickly, and we needed loans officers, branch managers and frontline staff to be able to tap into information and feedback loops faster and more actively than we had ever done before.
We made some questionable decisions and some good decisions. But despite the visioning process, the business case, the project charter, the detailed project plan and the input of the steering committee, the creation of a new online communications channel required a huge leap of faith.
What seemed a big risk at the time was in fact just a choice of whether we allowed ourselves to be limited to existing tools and technologies, or embrace new ones. And if so, which new ones. The use of technology wasn't the issue. We were already using faxes, snail mail, e-mail and all the other traditional methods of information exchange. The addition of another channel for communication was inevitable. The issue was one of timing and business priorities.
Will some of the "new" tools become commonly adopted by firms looking for ways to keep a running report on frequently asked questions, coming events notices, project updates, and a wide range of communications both within and without their organization. I don't doubt it for a second.
When does it make the most sense to adopt some of these tools? Only when it makes sense. Should you wait until there is absolutely no risk? Not unless your organization doesn't need what social media have to offer.
Shel Holtz has covered this issue from several angles:
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