In his opening keynote address, Dion Hinchcliffe, Vice President, Dachis Group, said that this year’s hot topic is social media, analytics are the future of social computing. Social is how we function today, and it is now the dominant form of communication. About 850 million people are using social computing today–more than use e-mail. This is the fastest migration we have ever seen, and its aftereffects are still being felt.We have always had more information that we can handle, and we are creating even more every month. Social tools make information abundantly observable. Static portals and intranets are changing to social environments to deal with that.
Your influence in the world will be determined by the kind of social capital you have built up. Social capital is tied to us as individuals, not to organizations. There is no good way to build capital around organizations–it’s the aggregate of all an organization’s employees. The Dachis Group has recently acquired the 2.0 Adoption Council, a collection of managers in large enterprises working on Web 2.0 adoption, and will study the effect of social media in large organizations. Knowledge is increasingly visible in social channels. It no longer “evaporates” or is hidden, and we now realize it is part of a single continuum and the one consistent way we consume information and collaborate.
Hinchcliffe has developed a social network map (see photo above), which has 4 stages: buzz, experimentation, adoption, and maturity. The goal is collective intelligence: getting value from what’s observable. But is all this information valuable? It appears that it is, at least enterprise channels. Some of the issues with observed information are:
- Knowledge Workers spend 20% of their time looking for info needed to do their jobs.
- 42% of the economies of developed nations is tacit interactions
- Organizations that adopt social tools widely see the amount of observable work skyrocket, which becomes a management and search concern.
- Between 80-90% of the information that organizations have collected over the last 30 years is inaccessible by most workers.
We must recognize that the web is very different from the enterprise. We have tools to find the needle, but analytics let us see the shape of the haystack, understand what we have, and know what it means. We don’t need to directly see all the information, but we need to see the “shadows” it makes. According to Hinchcliffe, many organizations are using “shadow IT”: informal or unauthorized channels. The new flow of business will be to put engagement in context.
How will we listen in the future? Strategic engagement tools now exist but are in their infancy. They focus primarily on the outside world, favor new social environments over older style and vertical communities. they don’t connect well to existing reporting tools and data warehouses. They are relatively expensive, and exist where you don’t expect them.
Most tools are focused on listening; analytics are harder to resolve. We need tools to understand network graphs, power laws, information architecture. Unfortunately, real results always seem to entail taxonomy and classification, which has been one of the very few classically stubborn problems on the web. Social analytics are almost as difficult and require insight into people–it’s about sociology as well as networks. Unlike listening, real analytic tools are hard to find. One example analytic system is nodeXL. It’s more than just social network visualization. We need to understand what we have.
Social networks are being used to solve real problems. For example, KatrinaList was widely used to help survivors find each other. Similar uses were made of social systems in the San Diego fires and Pakistani floods.
In the future, almost all social computing will be mobile. According to a recent report, most computing devices sold next year will be mobile. Digital, social, and mobile are all part of the same strategy.
Analytics are the future of social computing. The Google of social computing will arrive–it will be free multichannel, and will allow us to see more of the shadows than ever before. There will continue to many niche tools but the social landscape will ultimately look like the search industry does today. We will know we have arrived when social analytics tell us why, not just what.
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor