While social networking may appear to be technology’s latest darling, with Gartner predicting that the five largest Product Lifecycle Management software vendors will make it an integral part of their solutions within the next two years, it’s been around a good deal longer than most people realize.
An article in The Economist pointed out that social networking helped drive the Reformation in the 16th century. After Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg in 1517, it went viral, spreading through reprints and word-of-mouth. According to a friend of Luther, “hardly 14 days had passed when these propositions were known throughout Germany and within four weeks almost all of Christendom was familiar with them.” Luther helped push the distribution of his work by writing his texts in German, rather than the standard Latin, so that it could be read and shared by the public rather than only the Latin-speaking academics and clergy.
In Luther’s time, the only real technology available for publishing his messages was the printing press, a far cry from all the opportunities available to organizations today (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) for communicating with their customers. As well as with its customers, an organization can also leverage social networking technologies internally, among its different communities for the benefit of the whole.
Courtesy of GlobalWebIndex.net
By breaking down walls and sharing knowledge that is typically held in departmental silos, organizations become self-aware, more responsive to external demands as well as internal needs. Our own product, TrackerSuite.Net, facilitates this by integrating the workflows that drive Project Management, IT Services and CRM, as well as leveraging the primary messaging channel of the organization, its email system, to automate communication (including status reporting, approval routing, reminders, etc.).
The benefits of social networking and its ease of entry make the march towards it inevitable. However, every silver lining has its Cloud, apparently. In Gartner Predicts 2012: The Rising Force of Social Networking and Collaboration Services, the research firm pointed out that the integration of social media and business will eventually make it impossible for individuals to separate their personal lives from their work.
“The always-on and always-connected employee-base will increasingly be expected to be available to the business around the clock and on weekends and holidays.”
Gartner Predicts 2012: The Rising Force of Social Networking and Collaboration Services
Maybe Martin Luther didn’t have it so bad, with just a printing press and a couple nails.