With a perspective gained from helping a couple of hundred companies launch Enterprise 2.0 collaboration systems, an interesting contrast stands out in these most recent launches:
1. The pioneer mentality has faded into the background, as compared with even eighteen months ago. Many of the companies implementing business social networks today are doing so based on significant initial results reported by their more adventurous colleagues. In addition, they can now benchmark their progress against organizations that are much further along in the process. The result is more enterprise-wide rollouts (and the ensuing benefits of scale), rather than more constrained departmental implementations.
2. It’s still a thrill. I’ve been using Signals (our micro-blogging tool) for so long that I’ve forgotten what a hassle it used to be to find answers to questions. Nowadays, when I’m working with a customer and they ask a question I’ve never confronted before, I simply Signal it (to a specific group or everyone in Socialtext) and usually within minutes I’ve received exactly the answer I need. It may have become routine to me, but this kind of business value from social networks continues to amaze customers, who often don’t even know to whom they should address a particular question. It’s estimated that the average knowledge worker spends one day per week just looking for information. You can imagine how happy people are to discover there’s an easier way.