I've just returned from the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.This was a great experience yet also prompted some puzzling thoughts in my mind. On the positive side, this conference attracts the movers and shakers and early adopters of web 2.0 technologies for use in the enterprise. This conference looks at how social networking tools such as blogs, microblogs, networking platforms and wikis can be used behind the corporate firewall to increase productivity, enhance knowledge sharing, reduce imaginary barriers (think business silos) and more.
Vendors have a chance to articulate, defend and argue the value of their solutions. Companies are exposed to best practices, thus far, enjoyed by early adopters such as Booz Allen, Lockheed Martin and Intel. These are just some of the companies who were eager to share their stories. The common goals: to effectively and openly share information within the corporate firewall, to simplify how employees could discover colleagues with common projects, interest or knowledge, to create a commong grounds for employees to publish new ideas or concerns. Overall, an excellent conference for any company considering a social media implementation, but not sure where to start.
On the downside, I found an interesting paradox.Remember, this event is a about social media or leveraging Web 2.0 tools within the enterprise. The paradox is that from a networking perspective, the event was unfriendly. By this I mean it was very difficult to engage in a face to face discussion with fellow participants. While the Vendor Expo was quite friendly, the vendors were there to find leads and sell solutions. the general sessions were very well attended and many of the breakouts were standing room only. However, the usual casual chit chat (i.e., who are you , what do you do, what is your company doing, what excites you here at the conference, etc.) was modest.
Is this lack of verbal communication due to the fact that many of the participants are technology lovers and preferred to use the technology (i.e., Twitter) to communicate their thoughts? I shared my thoughts with the few folks who were willing to engage in conversation and they confirmed my concern. They had had equal challenges in fostering verbal discussion. My cautionary comment for anyone using or considering social media: it augments the conversation and interaction. Social media should not 100% replace actual conversations or meetings. Think about social media as yet another option to connect, collaborate and communicate, not the only way!
What's your perspective?