Get Out to the Surface

ISA’s Intech magazine editorial staff asked me if I’d be interested in writing the Executive Corner column for this month’s issue. The topic was to be about social media and what it means to companies. After a nanosecond of consideration, I eagerly agreed.

The premise of the article, Surface key to social network success, is that companies will be more successful the more their people move out to the surface of their organizations using social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, wikis, and blogs. I wrote:

It is at our organizations’ respective surfaces where talented people need to connect with one another to more quickly solve problems and advance our businesses.

Our expectations on the time it takes to get answers have changed dramatically:

Google and the other search engines have changed our expectations of how quickly we should be able to get answers to questions. These search engines provide a list of possible answers in seconds amongst the estimated 22.8 billion pages they crawl. If only the expertise in all the great minds in our automation business were part of this index.

So what’s in it for individuals to make their expertise more accessible to others? I borrowed many of the thoughts that Deb Franke and I shared at the past Emerson Exchange meeting in our Gamechangers: How to Thrive in Chaos presentation. These points include: increase visibility for the company and the individual, demonstrate listening, develop thought leadership, and find answers faster.

On the last point, Robert Metcalfe postulated Metcalfe’s Law, “The value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2).” As you grow you social network through these social media applications, its value grows exponentially.

On what social media means to companies, my conclusion:

With the turbulence in global economic conditions, the comfort of the status quo might seem like the safest path. In reality, the organizations first to recognize and act on the importance of getting their experts to the surface will be the ones who not only survive but thrive.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this article on either the Intech web site or here on this post.

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Posted Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 under Miscellaneous.

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