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Among the most overheard and misused buzzwords in companies are, you guessed it, ‘communities’ and ‘networks’. One of the side effects of Marketing 2.0 is, besides embodying new relationships between brands and customers, raising awareness among top managers about the potentials of collaborative work.
Of course companies, particularly the biggest ones, are dealing with internal communities for a few years now, often without truly understanding how to energize and leverage their power, but goofy expressions such as “Facebook for Enterprise” are now making their way into executives wish lists and discourses. Social platforms vendors aren’t helping either. Socialtext’s claim is ‘Social Networking with Enterprise 2.0 Collaboration’; Jive Software presents its SBS software as “robust social networking software for employee communities”. An awful 2.0 mess…
Technology itself, introducing more and more real-time capabilities into platforms, contributes further in blurring the lines between communities and networks.
Both concepts have their place in the connected Enterprise. Not only is the understanding of what differentiates them is key to successfully implement socio-collaborative initiatives, but harnessing their complementarity also provides us with a valuable framework of building blocks to leverage the internal ecosystem of Enterprise 2.0.
|Structure||Stable||Self-arranging and complex|
|Scope||Adaptive – Defined perimeter||Disruptive – Global perimeter|
|Goals||Collaboration over time||Specific|
|Governance||Managed leadership||Organic leadership|
|Level of integration into existing flows||Department / Role||Project / Task|
|Interaction mode||Mostly asynchronous||Real time|
|Adoption||Gradual, built on purpose||Affinity based, spontaneous|
Rather than fighting each other, communities and networks may, while serving different purposes, raise quality of connected work inside enterprise. Being fluid and highly interactive, networks can address specific issues out of the scope of a single community. They can be setup on demand, self-arrange to solve problems, then dismantled or put at sleep once the issue resolved. Networks act as powerful ad hoc task forces, their power amplified by real-time tools. Lot has been written about the need or not to embed community-based outcome into existing business processes. I do believe than working in a connected environment will ultimately lead to replace our actual processes by some new adaptive individually empowered mechanisms, and we can already put this vision at work: correctly driven (and understood, which means they must not been implemented as a substitute for communities but built ASIDE them), social networks have the tremendous power to deliver.