You probably have already used some Enterprise Social Software today - name it Slack, Yammer or even just a Google Drive. Such tools are meant to facilitate communication and collaboration within enterprises - which is pretty much what the E-Mail had promised in the 1980s. Later we saw chat services and social networks, but no matter how much smarter these technologies get, they are all eventually hitting a sort of sonic barrier: With higher speed, transparency and openness, the white noise becomes louder and louder, too. A new collaborative tool, does not always come with more collaboration in the long term. Instead we notice, that more communication and collaboration implies more cat content, than anything else. And furthermore transparency comes with more control by management all too often, too. The reason for this lies in the particular interdependence of information technologies and power relations within a company. The actual and most important function of an enterprise is to organize knowledge, as many scholars agree. That is precisely why a firm’s social structure depends so strongly on its IT, and also why the introduction of a knowledge management system can turn an enterprise’s power patterns upside down. For instance, advice may no longer be sought from bosses, but from whomever colleague makes the most savvy and useful posts on the enterprise wiki. If the existing hierarchy - the monkey’s rock - fights this change, the entire idea of Social Collaboration is bound to failure.
We will talk about what is actually "new" about Enterprise Social Media (and what is not), we will look at the promises of participation and empowerment of the worker precisely and will give users a Survival Kit on how one can survive in the Jungle of bosses that "follow" you, cat content that distracts you and lurking colleagues.
- Research Scientist