The relevance paradox: How the social enterprise can implode before it’s even begun


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Information. We’re all grasping for it, we want it now, we want it all, and in a social context we can have both. Same goes for the social enterprise (and to an extent, Social BPM outside of the usual collaborative use case), organisational and process information can be had at our fingertips, Wikis, internal communication networks, it’s always on. Look at the impact and noise generated out of Dreamforce 2011 right now as an example of where this is all going. The momentum is incredible. But it’s also in danger of imploding very quickly.

Trouble is, with all this ambient awareness in the organisation, do we actually know what to do with this information, what is relevant, and which is actionable to help achieve the goal or task at hand. Indeed, would you even know where to look for the information or know what it looks like when you have everything within your grasp ? You may not be aware of the relevance of what you possess because finding the information to put it all in context isn’t clear or immediately apparent, so how can you look for it ? And so the relevance paradox exists: “This occurs when an individual or a group of professionals are unaware of certain essential information which would guide them to make better decisions, and help them avoid inevitable and undesirable consequences. These professionals will seek only the information and advice they believe is the bare minimum amount required as opposed to what they actually need to fully meet their own or the organization’s goals.”

Another danger here is that as social enterprise software becomes more adaptive to an individual user’s needs, it learns their behaviours, filters the information according to historical data and use, and therefore potentially could deem a vital piece of information as non-critical and fail to deliver it on time.

This is especially true of archaic enterprise structures, where traditional top-down hierarchies can not sustain the growing need for an organisation to embrace the social phenomenon. Incompetence and chaos reigns. I’ve written about this before, and of the need to examine how lateral communication and community structures within the organisation should be examined and developed (

Again, there’s a burning need to adapt and change the traditional way we conduct and structure business around social, we cannot simply implement social software and medium into the enterprise and expect it to function properly. The fabric of the enterprise itself has to change and mold itself around this new paradigm in order to react to the new levels of speed and information it’s never experienced before.

If not, it won’t simply be a case of information overload, it’ll be game over.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Theo Priestley
Theo Priestley is Vice President and Chief Evangelist at Software AG, responsible for enabling the marketing and voice of the industry's leading Business Process, Big Data/ In-Memory/ Complex Event Processing, Integration and Transaction suite of platforms. Theo writes for several technology and business related sites including his own successful blog IT Redux. When he isn't evangelizing he's playing videogames, collecting comics and takes the odd photo now and then. Theo was previously an independent industry analyst and successful enterprise transformation consultant.


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