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We’re all social, but social isn’t always simple

by Carol Rozwell  |  August 10, 2010  |  2 Comments

It’s been a tough week dealing with client questions about collaboration, social software and social media. I’ve covered some topics during my Gartner career that were a little more cut and dried. The assumption was that if you knew your constituents and their requirements, you could pick to suitable solution to solve their business problem. And most of the time in those situations, this approach worked just fine.

However, I find client inquiries about social media and collaboration are more nuanced. There are fewer definitive rules that apply in every situation and no silver bullets. I’d like to repeat that, there are no silver bullets that work for every organization. Asking about ‘what others in my industry are doing’ provides examples of exactly that – what others are doing. They give you some ideas of what might work in your situation, but they may also obscure collaboration opportunities that might prove to be infinitely more beneficial for your workers, business partner and customers.

Social media, social software and collaboration are exactly that – social. That means that it’s important to explore those opportunities where the involvement of other workers informs and enriches work activities. In some scenarios, context from the social network will help a project team make a better concept decision during new product development. In other scenarios, the discussion in communities of practice will infuse knowledge across the entire team.

A few tips for people who want to know where social networking can help their organization:

  • Look for hot spots – scenarios where people are trying to solve a real business problem. This will help you identify the purpose for social media and give you clues about how to measure value.
  • Recruit respected people – hopefully, your hot spot includes some people that others emulate and will serve as ambassadors once the concepts have been tested and validated.
  • Examine the workflow – knowledge workers frequently access between three and 10 applications during the course of completing their work. Make sure social software is not just a veneer on top of those other tools.
  • Clarify appropriate use – changing behaviors takes time, but in many circumstances what we attribute to resisting something new is actually confusion about what is expected.

I’m sure there are many other tips that can help. Perhaps you will share yours.

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Category: change-management  collaboration  community  knowledge-management  social-media  social-networks  social-software  

Tags: change-management  collaboration  collaboration-dynamics  community-of-practice  knowledge-management  social-media  social-networks  social-software  

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 We’re all social, but social isn’t always simple


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by soshableweb and mitchell toomey UNDP, Henk van Roest. Henk van Roest said: We’re all social, but social isn’t always simple http://bit.ly/dySRl0 […]

  2. mitchell says:

    This is something I keep running into time and time again – explaining the different between social collaboration and process-oriented collaboration. While both have their place, most users arent aware that a process-oriented collaboration solution that truly manages teams through to consensus and helps achieve structured goals sometimes gets outglitzed by collaboration tools with a lot of social media buzzwords.

    I encourage everyone to check out http://www.kavi.com/resources for resources, best practices around structured collaboration, and some case studies about organizations using our tool, Kavi Workspace to accomplish this.



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