Social Learning: a Critical element of Social Business

There is no doubt that Social Media is quickly moving to the workplace.  This movement is happening so fast that many businesses that would use it as well as those that would provide the technology for it are being caught off guard and unprepared.

I just attended a webinar on Social Learning hosted by Chief Learning Officer magazine and featuring a presentation by Jeanne C. Meister, Founding Partner of Future Workplace.  The information she revealed was very relevant to Social Business.

Three trends were outlined:
– Globalization.  People will need to be able to work compatibly with all cultures of the world.
– Demographics.  By 2020 there will be 5 generations working side-by-side in the workforce.
– Social technologies.  Social media will be an integral part of business and how employees, customers, and partners communicate.

It was discussed how in the future, companies will be requiring employees to be certified in social media competence in the same way they already have ethics training and sensitivity training.  “Social Media Literacy.”

This is a critical part of the success of social business and will differentiate the successful businesses from the failures.  Employees will need to know how to use social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yammer, blogging and commenting.  Businesses are already beginning to invest in “managing reputation capital on the Internet.”

It was also discussed how Millennials will influence the future of how businesses use technology.  In case you haven’t seen them before, here is a breakdown of the generations:
Group                   Born
Traditionalists      -1946
Baby boomers       1947 – 1964
Gen X                   1965 – 1976
Millennials             1977 – 1997
Gen 2020              1997 –

By 2020 half of the workforce will be Millennials.  Three characteristics mentioned about this age group are:
1.  Their declining use of email.
2.  Their increasing use of Macs.
3.  Their lead on the use of social media.

As such, businesses need to be prepared to meet their demands and expectations of the work environment, but also that they should use this group in what was termed “reverse mentoring”, that is, leverage the millennials’ knowledge of social media in educating the older staff.

I found it most interesting how much Jeanne referenced IBM and Cisco in her presentation given she has no affiliation with those companies.  (She never even mentioned social business.)  IBM has had a program called Corporate Service Corps.  I didn’t fully understand the role of this group within IBM from her explanation.  (Perhaps an IBMer could answer in a comment?)  She also presented results of several surveys including some taken at IBM.  One interesting one (not from IBM) showed a graph indicating how, while email use is up year-over-year among people over age 55, all other age groups have seen a decline in the time spent using web-based email.  This is a strong message for businesses to heed.

Ultimately, the message here is how social media is taking our world by storm and the workplace is no exception.  Businesses that prepare their employees for this new wave first will have a dominating, competitive advantage over their rivals.  Also, companies invested in IBM technologies including Lotus Notes, who have stayed the course and not succumbed to the vocal few misinformed bellwethers among them who have called to switch their technology because it seems out of vogue, will now be in position to gain a clear and definitive advantage over their competition.  Where is Microsoft and Google in this powerful and irreversible trend toward social media in the workplace?  Nowhere.  If this were compared to a horse race, it would be most like the final race of the Triple Crown in the year of Secretariat.  Half the field didn’t bother to show up because they knew they didn’t stand a chance of winning.

There is no doubt in my mind that Social Business is the next big race, both for providers of the technology and for the consumers of it.  The only question is will you be in the race or will you be left in the stable?

(P.S. I’m hoping Jeanne will post the presentation so I can share more of the info with you.)


Posted on March 6, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Social Learning: a Critical element of Social Business.

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