Blogging was where we began, and how we built our company so we have preserved this archive to show how our thinking developed over a decade of developing the use of social technology inside organisations

Announcing the Social Business Summit, Europe: London, March 18, 2010


Moving beyond the adoption of social tools to consider business impact and implications for organisational designOn March 18, SOMESSO and Headshift/Dachis Group will host Europe’s first Social Business Summit; an invitation-only event in the city of London, which is aimed at business and technology thought leaders interested in the future of social business design. This event will be part of a series including a summit in Austin, Texas on March 11 and one in Sydney on March 25, intended to engage with leading practitioners on three continents and provide a global view of the market
Save the date and let us know if you wish to participate.The use of social tools in business is now progressing from the experimental stage to the beginning of mainstream adoption. As with all transformational technologies, organisational culture change and technology adoption are closely related, with both influencing the other in subtle but important ways. We want to look ahead and consider the impact of social tools on the way we organise, structure and manage knowledge- and people-intensive businesses in the future, both internally and externally
The relationship between technology and culture is an interesting one, and it plays out differently in the short-run and the long-run. We can see the increasing speed with which technological change bleeds into mainstream culture through the impact of printing, radio, the telephone, television and, most recently, the internet and social networking. Whether it is Time’s person of the year, or the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year, the influence of recent online developments is inescapable. But at a deeper level, more fundamental change is also happening, though less immediately visible, and over a longer time period
In business, our use of technology is influenced by the way we work; but the way we work, and indeed the way we structure our companies and organisations, is also very much influenced by technology. The Twentieth Century corporation was partly a product of technological innovations in logistics, transport and communications. Those who could afford to exploit these expensive innovations were able to reap the benefits of scale associated with large-scale co-ordination of human and material resources
But institutions can give longevity to ideas through codification into practice. So as the technological or economic constraints associated with our means of organisation fell away, companies did not always change their structure or practice in response. Fast-forward to the early Twenty-first Century and we face a mis-match between the affordances of the day-to-day technology most people use and the organisational structures they operate within, which have yet to adapt to take advantage of the way new technology changes how people interact and co-operate. This gap represents a huge business opportunity for those companies able and willing to adapt
If, as Clay Shirky argues, the cost of collaboration is close to zero thanks to social tools, what does this mean for organisational design? Can we dramatically reduce internal cost structures by making better use of emergent behaviour inside the firm? If real-time data has the potential to transform service delivery, then how should organisations be structured to take advantage of it? These are just some of the questions that the adoption of social tools inside the enterprise are raising about the future of the firm. They touch on various aspects of technology, from enterprise architecture to user experience design; but they are also informed by economic theory, cognitive science, anthropology, psychology and organisational design
Last year we outlined our thinking on how to apply social business design to the practical needs of companies. 2010 is set to be a very busy and interesting year for those of us who are exploring the impact of social tools, networks and concepts on the way we organise businesses and other forms of collaboration or collective action
But we don’t have all the answers – indeed we don’t even have all the questions – and that is why we have decided to reach out to a mix of thinkers, practitioners and business people in knowledge- and people-intensive firms to help chart the next stage of this journey
We will be announcing more details of the summit in the next few weeks. It will consist of at least 50% facilitated discussion, but there will be some great short talks too, and we hope everybody will go away with something useful. There will be a cost to attend, to cover the venue and logistics, but it will be worth it – promise 🙂 But for now, please save the date and let us know if you wish to participate.

2 Responses to Announcing the Social Business Summit, Europe: London, March 18, 2010

  1. By jon Husband on January 8, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Very nicely articulated combination of event announcement and elaboration of context for the content of the event.

  2. By Craig Hepburn on January 18, 2010 at 11:23 am

    This sounds like a fantastic event and great to see some more activity promoting social business and Enterprise 2.0 in the UK. We are seeing this increase across Europe and North America but good UK events around this area are still sparse.
    I think we are starting to see social media with an enterprise context becoming more important to organisations as they are forced to innovate and evolve through challenging economic times. As i recently wrote about the Four Productivity Risks Enterprise 2.0 Defeats
    Really looking forward to this event.