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Resisting Social Media is Futile

by Carol Rozwell  |  October 25, 2009  |  7 Comments

Cnet posted a story on the analyst keynote delivered at Gartner Symposium last week  Gartner: Loosen up on social networks, security which received many thougthful comments. Here is some additional detail related to the talk:

• Social media is a new and emerging communication channel. Enterprises will make the decision to utilize, resist or ignore it in the workplace. But opting to resist or ignore it is a decision – one that shuts your organization off from valuable insight.

• Work is a collaborative activity and humans interact as social beings during work. Few, if any, jobs can be completed without the involvement of collaborators so ‘greasing the skids’ of relationship-making and maintenance is essential for performance.

• An employee wasting time on social media is a performance problem. Don’t blame it on social media. Productive employees are too busy with work to spend lots of time in social media having personal conversations. Instead, they use social media as a means to get their work done. Check out any of the Gartner groups on LinkedIn – you will see they are clearly work-related conversations.

Social media is an additional communication channel that augments others such as the phone and email. It offers a new source of information and, perhaps, insight. I’m talking about the opportunity to actively seek information in realtime, as well as to mine collected information for new ideas and perspectives. As an analyst, I can continually monitor what’s being said in social media such as Twitter, facebook and LinkedIn about topics and issues relevant to my research. For other ideas, see Jeff Mann’s research Four Ways in Which Enterprises Are Using Twitter 

Work is a collaborative activity. Today people work on 8 – 15 projects at any point in time. They are constantly switching contexts and needing to create or re-establish work relationships. Social profiles give people the opportunity to find out about the expertise of colleagues and ‘get to know them’ even before they meet. They can shorten the ‘mating ritual’ that occurs as a new team forms and allow fellow workers to stay in touch with each other.

Researchers at UCLA found brain experiences the workplace first and foremost as a social system. To read the article on their work, see  Managing with the Brain in Mind

Researchers at Harvard Business School found that team familiarity is positively related with team performance. To read the working paper, see Team Familiarity, Role Experience and Performance: Evidence from Indian Software Services

An employee wasting time on social media is a performance problem, not a social media problem. Dealing with performance issues head-on is uncomfortable. An employee who is not carrying their weight demoralizes the whole team. I once had to fire a guy who came into the office, opened up the newspaper and sat reading it all day. Today, he might have spent all his time on facebook, but he still would be underperforming.

Category: collaboration  social-networks  social-software  

Tags: social-media  

Carol Rozwell
VP Distinguished Analyst
11 years at Gartner
21 years IT industry

Carol Rozwell is a vice president and distinguished analyst on Gartner's Digital Workplace team. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Resisting Social Media is Futile

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dennis McGuire, Bob Bicknell. Bob Bicknell said: Resisting Social Media is Futile […]

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by socialmediatip: Resisting Social Media is Futile

  3. harshal says:

    I think an employee spending time on social networking sites is not a waste of time but an informal channel to get connected. I helps you to gain knowledge.

  4. Paolo Berton says:

    My understanding regards social media/social network is very simple : “OURS is better than MINE”, and this means that in a very complex, dynamic and changing business ecosystem is important to establish a network across the boundaries (company,country,family) to learn and enrich your knowledge. For company it offers many opportunities:
    – Better understand of consumer/customer preferences
    – Improve the base knowledge of company employees
    – Have an outside-in view in many common issues across industries: eg. change management, scarceness of skillfull resources in many legacy domains, how to address innovation in time of difficult economies
    – Talk the language of the digital naive generation; my daughters age people are entering into the work environment and they expect to find connection (IM, Facebook, Twitter), content (wikipedia,blogs), openess (social network)

    If not address properly these opportunities may become issues and potential loss for shortsighting companies.


  5. Carol Rozwell says:

    Paolo, thank you for your comments. You made many excellent points. The one that really resonated with me is the ‘outside-in’ view. Oh so simple to say, but oh so difficult to achieve.

  6. Paolo Berton says:

    Carol, that is true. The cultural change requested to an organization to become open to the external environment and willing to confront with diverse experiences is very big. However can an organization in the today’s world even thinks to work isolated from the rest of economical ecosystem?

  7. […] Rozewell, a VP/Distinguished Analyst at Gartner, explained brilliantly in her “Resisting Social Media is Futile” blog post that, “An employee wasting time on social media is a performance problem. […]

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