Over the last few weeks we have heard about riots in Tunisia, Egypt, Lybia, Algeria, Bahrain and more, mostly powered by the disruptive role of social media like Twitter and Facebook, to the point that in many cases governments have been forced to block Internet access.
In Italy, where the ruling premier has a strong hold on traditional media, initiatives in support of the DAs indicting him are flourishing on social media, creating a horizontal wave that cuts across established parties and organizations.
All these examples point in the same direction. The power shifts from organizations to individuals. The way every one of us decides to access, produce, share, rate information is entirely up to us.
This is clearly having an effect well beyond these high profile cases of democratic upheaval.
- Clients can gather direct information about suppliers from other clients, without having to rely on case studies or references provided by those suppliers.
- Associations that are in the business of providing information and lobbying government are challenged by informal network of individuals who have a common interest and can establish tigher a more flexible connections than through those same associations.
- Employees do not need to go to their HR department nor to their union representatives to know their rights and claim for a change of working conditions. If they are disgruntled about their boss, they can profile him or her through all the traces left on various social media, and build evidence that may put him ir her in a difficult situation.
- Students who have doubts about a test evaluation or simply an answer to their question, can instantly socialize that question or test result with thousand students and hundred teachers, and challenge their own.
- Patients or their relatives can collect and socialize evidence to sue doctors for malpractice much more easily (and inexpensively) than ever before.
- Employees may avoid using corporate tools that they dislike and choose consumer tools instead, socializing information and processes in new ways that break the boundaries of their organizations.
The list is endless. What technology is doing is to give everyone of us the power to decide. Those who cheer at how it is challenging undemocratic regimes in far away countries had better prepare for when their organization will be challenged and how they may be unseated as business managers, suppliers, CIOs, policy-makers, HR managers, procurement officers….