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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