Nora Barnes (director of the Center for Marketing Research at UMass, Dartmouth) and Eric Mattson have a new survey report out on social computing —They compare how universities and companies in the Inc. 500 are using social media — blogging, social networking (whch I take to mean sites like Facebook and MySpace), message boards, online video, podcasting, and wikis. In a nutshell
Social media has arrived in college admissions. The ivory tower is innovating even faster than the elite Inc. 500. And the game has changed forever.
I cannot wait to see their detailed analysis.
Picking through their numbers so far, two things jump out. First, universities are almost as likely to use social networks as search engines when evaluating potential students (26% vs 21%).
Admission offices can find out all kinds of information about their prospects by googling them on the web. Tracking and tracing their social networks is close behind. Hum, I wonder what enterprises are going to be doing, both when reviewing job candidates and business partnerships, and when tracking performance. I can see it now — a new generation of “socially conscious” HR and business applications.
Second, we’ve been talking about blogs and wikis in almost the same breadth (thanks in part to Don Tapscott and Wikinomics and “how mass collaboration changes everything”). But not so fast. While blogging is more widely used in universities than in corporations (33% vs 19%), wikis are more widely deployed in corporations than in universities (17% vs. 3%). So we ought to take another breadth, turn down the hypemeter, and better understand how these different modes of collaboration are used in practice.
Here’s my vote. It’s all about the difference between self-publishing and supporting a business process. Blogging’s easy — I’m standing at my virtual Hyde Park corner (as in this blog), using my own time. Others who want to invest their time can read what I have to say. (Thank you, my readers!) But putting up a wiki is all about sharing information that’s part of a business process — I post, you modify, and our colleagues elsewhere in the world add their two cents. The outcome is a group project, the results of our “collective intelligence.” It’s a bit like co-authoring a report or developing a project plan for a group or . . . . you get the point — we share in the results through an interactive process.
Oh, one other thing. Business processes are tough to implement. They happen not by accident but by design. When the bloom is off the rose, we’re going to have to do a lot more work to make wikis really useful within the enterprise.