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Social media may not be a revolution, but it's in your enterprise

The social media multiverse is all a Twitter about the fact that one of today’s most popular intellectuals has written an article saying that the revolution will not be tweeted.

You should read his account, but Malcolm Gladwell’s case in The New Yorker essentially argues that today’s technology-based social media ties are not as strong nor as influential as the ones that galvanized the civil rights movement of the 1960s. On its face I would have to believe that, but nothing in today’s world of social networking is that cut and dried.

On the other site, blogger David Helfenbein is in a huff about Gladwell’s thesis, saying he misses the mark, and that he’s insulted by the notion that today’s generation can’t get spurred to action.

What do CIOs think? Somewhere in between. “Social media, in the small sense, is about marketing and recruiting talent. In the large sense, it represents the transformation of capitalism as we know it,” said keynote speaker John Sviokla, vice chairman at Chicago-based Diamond Management & Technology Consultants Inc., at a meeting last month of the Boston chapter of the Society for Information Management.

Sviokla’s “third wave of capitalism,” as Senior News Writer Linda Tucci reported, is in my opinion a bit over the top when in reality CIOs are concerned about things like social media usage policies and corporate reputation. In addition, around 30% of respondents to a recent SIM survey said their organizations block social media use.

Kevin M. More, Boston SIM’s vice president and incoming president, just wants to be sure social media is executed correctly. “We don’t want to just throw something up,” he said. “We understand that Facebook has a lot of potential. But for every success, there are probably 30 to 40 failures.”

What is often missing in the discussion about corporate IT and social media is that there are two kinds: one that is used to reach out to your customers, and the other to empower your own employees. These are two different things completely, and technology plans around them should take that into consideration.

Whether your opinion of social media is pro or con, or whether it’s too powerful or not powerful enough, the fact is it’s in your company now, and it’s better to embrace it rather than fight it.

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