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Social: the new silo-busting tool for business

One of the oldest problems in business, getting different groups to communicate with each other, could be solved by one of the newest online phenomenon: social tools. Two industry leaders explained how to break down these silos through social at the Structure:Data conference on Wednesday.

Jive Software's David Gutelius at GigaOM's Net:Work 2011Cameran Evans, Data Scientist at Socialcast by VMware(s vmw) explained the measurable benefits to this solution. “It comes from data,” Cameran said, “showing how much faster employees get answers to their questions. Solutions that would have taken weeks or months are coming through in hours because someone has the info needed.”

Measuring this type of social interaction in the workplace can actually tie back directly to a company’s earnings. Organizations can look at their time between a lead to a sale or view the percent of conversations across internal groups: Marketing vs. sales vs. HR, for example.

But the new social revolution inside enterprises is only just beginning, said David Gutelius, the Chief Social Scientist at Jive Software. Metrics on time-based efforts are a start, but in the future we can “[G]o beyond the data and tie it to other processes: Using big data stacks in new ways, for example.”

We might be thinking that there’s limited benefit to social networks, considering many topics are related to pop culture, news events and other consumer-based themes, but social tools can be very powerful. Not only can they bust down silos in the enterprise, they can give corporate leaders a more insightful view of how work actually gets done.

Watch the livestream of Structure:Data here.

Watch live streaming video from gigaombigdata at

3 Responses to “Social: the new silo-busting tool for business”

  1. Ian Andrew Bell

    Technologies for this sort of interaction have been there since Lotus Notes. The problem is social, not technological. Big companies are broken because the silos are built by people and business units as defensive barriers. Your social capital and job security within that business come from who you know, what you manage, and what you know that is unique. Convincing people to simply hand this over without any explicit reward, particularly amid a climate of cost-cutting, is the really hard part.

    • Ian, that’s a great point. And something that was discussed by the panelists was the potential to reward employees that provided the most benefit to organizations. After all, you can measure social usage with these tools. There are pros and cons to the approach, but there may be an opportunity there to solve the challenge you raise.

  2. As we’ve mentioned elsewhere it’s the social potential *across* instead of *within* businesses that will be huge and a game-changer in the way we all do business in the next couple of years. There is a need (or one will emerge) for some kind of interoperability or standards for this purpose – but I guess it’s too early still for this…