Social media and enterprise 2.0 are largely thought of separately these days, in large part because social media primarily affects communications and relationships with constituent groups outside of the organization and enterprise 2.0 addresses collaboration and innovation behind the firewall. In reality, organizations will find that by doing one they must address the other. Why? Social technologies significantly reduce the cost of content creation, distribution and discovery, thereby significantly increasing the speed of information and value transfer. If implemented on one side of the corporate firewall but not the other, it creates an imbalance that grows quickly, increasing tension and strain felt in other parts of the organization.
In most cases, the information environment outside the organization is changing far more rapidly than the information environment internally. Customers, partners, prospects, and employees can find, access, and share information in a way that corporate infrastructure, security, culture, and policies inhibit. Organizations are having a hard time keeping up with - never mind responding to or taking advantage of - these new environments. As organization do adapt, the external environment is continuing to speed up and become more efficient at arbitraging information and value. In a particular market that means the advantages go to people and organizations that are first to see the opportunity.
If as an organization, you have built a robust social media ecosystem for marketing and customer support, but have ignored applying social and networked communications technology internally, new opportunities will be found quickly in the market only to hit a brick wall once introduced internally. On the flip side, if you've applied internal social technologies that enable rapid innovation and collaboration, but you have no external channels by which to inform your market and gather feedback rapidly, that innovation will have limited value to the organization.
Those companies that have been at this a little longer than others realize this and we are starting to see how radically it is affecting their entire enterprise - Dell, SAP, EMC, CSC and many others now understand that this is not about a Facebook or blogging strategy, it's about increasing the speed of business and increasing their competitive advantage.
It's no longer a question of if, but when. Is your organization the one hitting the gas pedal or are you still riding the brakes?
This post is cross-posted from The Community Roundtable blog.