Here’s a flow in the right direction. WSJ reports that companies are working hard to make business applications more “social”, following the explosive growth of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr et al. Global spending on social business applications is estimated to hit $630 million this year and increase to $1.86 billion by 2014. This will help to break down silos, cut out duplication, over-ordering and re-work, and release creative flows.
There are important differences between social networking as we know it, and how it might work in the world of business. Some information may need to stay under wraps, work conversations have to be focused, and there will always be a place where the buck stops.
But what’s encouraging about this trend is that it says business isn’t faking the participation gene. It’s one thing to use social media to reach out to consumers, another for a company to embed participation in its DNA. This bodes well for the consumer: firms that nurture great relationships internally will more naturally reach out to consumers in a way that’s relational rather than transactional.
In the same way that movements are displacing markets, institutional systems in the business world are evolving as demand grows for more human ways of interacting. Participation is penetrating to the core.