Some marketers claim that the social software classes of technologies are suited to all manner of business, yet our research shows that this is not necessarily the case.

Now, I will agree that collaboration is an important part of every business, every transaction. But the fundamentals of balancing the costs of relying on computer technologies versus the convenience of relying on simpler technologies are a constant challenge for vendors and potential customers.

Simpler technologies like pens, paper, white boards and personal invitations to form ad hoc groups, work together on business problems, customer opportunities or otherwise innovate within the business suggests that there is some scale of organizational size where geographical separation and sheer size and scope of business problems overcome the simpler technologies. Otherwise a pad of paper and good ol’ face-to-face meeting is the answer.

I’ve seen this debate before. Early in my statistical process control engineer career (eons ago), an executive at HP Canada asked my thoughts on the market potential of their latest premium priced ‘industrial grade PC’, specifically that if it would be useful in a statistical process control application. I told him I thought its market potential was extremely limited because it was competing with a pencil and a pre-printed statistical process control chart.

Large organizations need social networking software to overcome the previous limits of their organizational weight and bureaucracy. It is through the adoption and proliferation of these classes of technologies that the fundamentals of organizational boundaries are erased and people with appropriate skills can assemble and form naturally as opposed to waiting for the corporate permission to form, in order to move the business forward faster, and with greater commitment than ever before.

The old command and control organizational dynamic is still very alive, but it is being challenged and molded to enable more rapid response to business opportunities where human capital can come together in unintended ways. This is the secret sauce of the new millenium.

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