Well the Title of this blog entry would make most people think!
For most people entering into the workforce today, email is how they contact their parents and grand parents. They use other social software tools to communicate with their social peers like IM, Blogs, MySpace and Videos.
In most larger organisations that I have consulted at, I am continually informed about how email now is considered an ineffective means of communication. It no longer has the effect it once did, some people are so inundated they only have time to respond to the most important emails as perceived by them at that particular point in time.
Email is also really ineffective as a means to coordinate activites when more then a couple of people are involved. It just doesn’t work! Email is great for send and forget, I’ve done my task its now SEP (Someone Elses Problem).
We on a daily basis don’t use email for communicating internally, we use Skype – far quicker and convenient. If we need to add other people to the conversation we can.
However, email is still at this time one of those necessary tools that are required for doing business. I imagine telex machines and faxes were once considered the same as well, indispensable! I wonder when email will be considered as old fashioned as faxes appear today? In some circles it has already happened.
There is some really interesting communication and social software on the horizon which will introduce some new notions of confidentially and ownership. This social software facilities decentralised communication and fosters sharing of information within a community. Those that can utilise that community and act on the shared information will become the next generation of innovative businesses.
The boundaries of where the community is, has informally extened passed the boundaries of that particular organisation or enterprise that a person is within. Yet, the centralised control imposed on most persons within an organisation has meant that the sharing of this information through the “know-how” network has been limited to those very means that are now considered ineffective or through face-to-face meetings.
One of the true last hurdles to overcome before any wide spread adoption of social software,within and around an enterprise will be addressing what information and documents can be released. As with the debate regarding Knowledge Management in the 1990s, by information, I mean the knowledge that is contained within an individual or within a team. That is the tacit knowledge that is not readily documentable.
Polanyi’s famous aphorisms applies “We know more then we can tell.’
Social Software will facilitate innovation, but only when organisations drop centralised control in favour of a decentralised model where common sense and trust are the normal.