Last week I met the CIO of a government agency and we discussed about their current plans for internal collaboration, based on the deployment of a particular commercial solution. He seemed to have quite clear ideas about investment, deployment and sustainability of that initiative, for which he said he had users queuing for over 50 collaboration projects they want to set up.
In the past I have had similar conversations, where clients had been disappointed by the uneven uptake of those tools often due to the fact that man were already using consumer solutions like Google Docs, LinkedIn or Facebook to support internal collaboration. Therefore I asked him whether he had conducted any internal research or survey to figure out how employees were using those consumer tools, since he admitted that none of those is blocked on the corporate network. He exuded confidence in his enterprise collaboration strategy, and I kind of expected his dismissive answer to my insinuation that the consumerization of collaboration may be an issue in his agency.
I assumed that access to social media was a marginal phenomenon, but I asked anyhow if he had any statistics about access. I almost balked when he said that little over 50% of their bandwidth was consumed by social media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn). He regularly reports to the different business unit managers the relevant stats, and he correctly pointed out that it is up to them to determine whether the use of social media is justified.
However what struck me was his assumption that employee access social media for personal use only, or at most to engage with external stakeholders. It did not occur to him that with such a pervasive use there may be a non-negligible use for internal collaboration purposes, and that some employees may now been relying on mixed internal-external communities for some aspects of their work. As a consequence the enterprise collaboration platform may not be fit for their purposes and the uptake may be disappointing.
The bottom line is that many people do not get yet that the impact of consumer social media inside the organization is going to be as significant as the external impact, if not more.