Although my son Ryan is a little young to understand how computers work he does already understand that by pestering me enough he’ll get to see the sing along with The Tweenies. So even at 1 he knows that the computer is a source of information. By the time he is in his early 20’s I’ll be in my late 50’s. Between now and then there will be a step change in technologies. How will I, as a potential decision maker in my late 50’s be able to cope with his demands for new technology which I may not fully understand.
The same dilema is faced by today’s decision makers in respect to social technology savvy graduates leaving university. How do you translate “this is way cool” into business language identifying benefits. This is the key I think. Younger workers understand the benefits of the newer technologies but do not have the business language skills to translate the benefits to their senior business managers. It isn’t just senior managers who don’t understand social technology.
Libby Ingrissia surveyed the Lotus User Group last week to see how many people used social bookmarking – 63% responded “what is social bookmarking” – I hazard a guess that most user group readers are system administrators or developers. So the challenge from those of us who THINK we understand social software is to try and bridge the gap between our users, techies and managers. I struggle at times because highly technical people who understand what a blog is can’t understand why they would benefit from one and hence adoption of social technology becomes more of an issue. Selling email, IM, and conference software is simple, the langauge can be phrased in such a way and people grasp the nettle immediately. Talk about social bookmarking, blogs, wikis and my perception is people glaze over so I must think of a way in my enterprise to spell out the benefits of this emerging technology (I say emerging from an enterprise perspective). How we talk about social software in a way which engages all is the challenge (if anyone has managed it please pass on your secret!).
Tomorrow I feel will be the same challenges just for a different technology set so I guess I’ll just have to arm myself ready for that, who knows what those challenges will be but I’m sure they’ll be fun.