The Social Web: Yesterday’s Technology Mavericks Take Note

The thing I find most interesting is that the people running IT today were the revolutionaries of the ’80s and 90’s! They toppled the old regime, and became what they hated most: blockers of innovation, gatekeepers who know what’s best, an established regime desperately trying to hang on to power in the face of a revolution.

When will our beloved profession learn?

The social web is not just Twitter or FaceBook or LinkedIn. The social web is not a waste of time, and the social web is needed. The term social web describes a real-time information ecosystem designed to produce real value fast. Social media is the information―opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives―people create for the purpose of sharing with others. Social networking is the use of tools to create a community of people used to validate, filter and consume social media. The community validates and filters social media for a purpose, and that purpose is the creation of value.

Open source software is an excellent example of the value the social web can bring. By updating the definition of open source from homepage of we get: “The social web is a means to harness the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of the social web is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, and lower cost.” While thewordingmay havechanged, the spirit and meaning stay the same.

Who doesn’t want that?

IT should realize the value of the social web. Want to really innovate? Want innovation that helps drive sales (what business really wants us to do)? Consider IT sponsoring social web initiatives instead of blocking them.

I know there are those of you who right now say, Hank doesn’t understand our ________ [situation, predicament, etc.] We can’t be transparent due to ______ [reputation, business model, etc.] Our market is different, we are subject to ______. [this or that law, regulation, etc.]

I do understand, and if you can’t innovate with the public social web, why not create an internal or private social web? If you take the private route, take the time to understand what social web really means. I’ll give you a hint: its not your intranet with a bulletin board …

Hank Marquis is practice leader for Business Service Management at Global Knowledge. You can reach Hank at [email protected].

(Oh, to be fair, the last I heard Gartner blocks access to social web.)