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Don’t Approach Social Media Like Traditional Collaboration

by Anthony J. Bradley  |  October 1, 2009  |  4 Comments

In a client conversation yesterday I was going through my now standard monologue on purpose, purpose, purpose as the three most important criteria for social media success (playing off the 3 most important principles for success in real estate…location, location, location). And I brought up the high failure rate of the “provide and pray” practice which hovers somewhere around 90%.

He had a very simple yet profound question, “Is this unique to social media?” A great question that is actually very illuminating. If you think of non-collaborative solutions, a 90% failure rate for simply providing a technology seems pretty low. Imagine installing an Oracle database and expecting a business intelligence solution to just emerge. We recognize that you need to deliver application solutions (solution here defined as a solution to a stated business challenge rather than a general activity).

However, traditionally, IT doesn’t generally think of collaboration in terms of delivering a solution. IT doesn’t deliver an e-mail solution. Same for KM, IM and Web conferencing. IT basically delivers a platform for general collaborative interactions. Social media is different in that the vast majority of successes are solutions to specific business needs. The crux of the challenge with social media is that IT is used to providing collaboration tools rather than delivering a collaboration solution.

I believe it is this tendency of IT to think of providing a collaboration platform rather than a collaboration solution that leads to the prevalent “provide and pray” bad practice.

Until IT makes the “platform to solution” shift, the failure rate for social media initiatives will remain very high.   

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Anthony J. Bradley
GVP
13 years at Gartner
30 years in IT

Anthony J. Bradley is a Group Vice President in Gartner Research. In this role he leads global teams of analysts who research the emerging technologies and trends that are changing today's world and shaping the future. Mr. Bradley's group strives to provide technology product and service leaders (Tech CEOs, General Managers, Chief Product Officers, Practice Leads, Product Managers and Product Marketers) with unique, high-value research and indispensable advice on leveraging emerging technologies and trends to create and deliver highly successful products and services. Information technology now impacts pretty much every business function in all companies, all industries, and all geographies. Technology providers are critical to the technology and business innovation that will define the world of tomorrow. Innovation depends on technology providers. By helping them, we help the world.


Thoughts on Don’t Approach Social Media Like Traditional Collaboration


  1. Rob Luhrs says:

    I agree 100%. I currently work for Novell on their Teaming product, but came from SiteScape where I was the lead consultant for 6 years on our Forum product. Sales folks in general don’t get that a product like that is NOT email.. it requires interviewing employees to discover paint points and actually deploying a use case that solves a business problem, not just sticking a tool out there and hoping for the best.
    As a note, this is why every successful deployment I have ever been part of is when we have sold a Services Engagement along side the product, and delivered on an actual Use Case. Once a single use case gets deployed, I find that folks start to find other use cases and viola, you start to end up with a success!

  2. Anthony Bradley says:

    Rob, I could not have said it better myself 🙂

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by emexec, koach and Dr. Wilhelm Greiner. Dr. Wilhelm Greiner said: RT @BradleyAnthonyJ Just blogged on a key difference between social media and traditional collab http://ow.ly/sdjL […]

  4. […] I blogged about IT shifting from providing collaboration platforms to delivering social solutions. This is a subset of the overall business shift from distribution to […]



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