Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On the Prowl for Thought Leadership, Falling off of the Curve

Social Media Thought Leadership 

Denis Pombrant writes for E-Commerce News: On the Prowl for Thought Leadership:
Marc Benioff said something like that at his last appearance in Boston a couple of months ago. It was said with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, but there also was a serious message embedded in the statement. Time to fish, we've cut all the bait we intend to, and if you don't land a fish pretty soon, we're going to start calling you Santiago.
"Why am I being so hard on this? I don't think I am, and if you think so, I apologize. It's just that last week the full faith and credit of the United States went into doubt for the first time. The day I am writing this, the Dow sank another 500+ points, and it's all vivid evidence that the old thinking that was sustained by ancient paradigms is finally kaput, broken and irretrievably lost. Those paradigms drove the development of our old business processes, and therefore software models too. Whether you call it by a number like one-dot-oh or something else, those paradigms are being blown away this summer after more than a decade of simmering disruption.
This was a great time for thinking people to say that all the new technologies that we are celebrating are not simply the next shiny objects but the path -- no! the lifeboat -- to the future. This is not the time to dither about whether to implement this year or next, and the time is passed for questioning whether this stuff is a fad or the real thing. It's first off a cultural shift, and it starts with Tapscott's and Williams' five major points of Macrowikinomics -- collaboration, openness, sharing, integrity and interdependence -- and what things like social, analytics, mobile and other technologies do to enable them."
[My emphasis added].

This is not a political blog, this is a blog about technology, and using inexpensive technology to achieve your goals. The emergence of Social Media, and a brand new quiver full of cheap tools, is the topic for this post. 

Three Curves to Consider

The first curve is the Gartner Hype Curve for emerging technology. Gartner has 75 different curves in their publication: Mastering the Hype Cycle. Technologies are created and migrate along this track towards productivity - some tools never make it to full adoption and productivity. Of course, there is a curve that describe the adoption life-cycle as well.

(Click on any of the graphics to see a larger version.)

The second curve is the Rogers' Diffusion of Innovation Adoption Curve. Wikipedia provides the summary: Everett Rogers "...proposed 4 main elements that influence the spread of a new idea: the innovation, communication channels, time, and a social system. That is, diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system. Individuals progress through 5 stages: knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation."

The third curve is from DesignDamage's When to Adopt Social Media for Your Business. "The idea of adopting new technology is to improve productivity and fuel growth, not to chase the hype or follow the trend for the sake of doing it. You need to ask yourself this: How much risk are you willing to take investing (time, resources, money) in social media? Does your organization have the resources to execute the adoption of this new platform?"

Fish, or Cut Bait?

  1. Are you and your company prepared for "collaboration, openness, sharing, integrity and interdependence"? 
  2. Have you worked through the details of "innovation, communication channels, time, and social system" (or market)? 
  3. Are you moving your customers through key phases of "knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation"? 
  4. Have you adopted the proper technology to achieve your goals?
  5. Bonus question: is any of this even necessary/achievable for small business? 

Inflated Expectations

It is my position that Social Media is suffering the growing pains of inflated expectations. Many people claim expertise when there is little standard. Some innovators, early adopters, of Social Media are also evangelists preaching their own book; "personal brand" has killed egoism. Social Media solutions that work for large corporations do not translate well for small companies. How quickly will the new tools mature? Or, will they fall off the curve? None of these are insurmountable issues, and certainly thought leadership will arise - separating the wheat from the chaff.

Bottom Line

It is early, and thought leadership is still missing.