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Drawing from ideas implicit in social software, the impact of social software on business effectiveness is a study which focuses on improved business processes and decreased production cycle times.

Social software applications are emerging in current literature pertaining to business processes and business communication as dominantly experimental, but promising mechanisms to facilitate business collaboration, and the use of ICTs more generally within organisations is now widely accepted as a key source of value for business operation. However, there are still pockets of resistance to the use of such tools in organisational contexts and this is based on uncertainty over the measurable value (qualitatively and quantitatively) that collaborative tools can deliver to organisations. Instances of successful deployment of collaborative tools have produced a degree of cynicism amongst some commentators, who express some doubt about the generalisability of the results of trials, citing high motivation for collaboration among users of the technologies. Some commentators have gone further, arguing that the natural social practices that are reinforced by these technologies are more costly than value-generating.

Nevertheless, it appears the surge towards collaboration and interaction between business units and knowledge workers is inexorable. Johnson, et al (2005, see below) have projected that the next revolution in interactions is in terms of maximising the productivity of the most valued workers in organisational environments: knowledge workers. Yet these knowledge workers can only have limited merit and significance if they work in isolation. The best means of maximising their productivity is in bringing them together and facilitating their collaboration.

Major questions that arise from research in social software and business effectiveness are therefore as follows:

  • How can social software improve business communication?
  • How can improved business communication improve productivity?
  • What metrics should we use to demonstrate improved business effectiveness as a result of the deployment of social software tools?

Crucial to this area of research is the differentiation between effectiveness and efficiency; efficiency is a ratio of inputs to outputs and is therefore a purely economic construct, where effectiveness is an outcome - a statement about the quality of business activities and outputs.


Further Reading Edit

Johnson, Manyika & Lee (2005) The next revolution in interactions (http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/article_page.aspx?ar=1690&L2=18&L3=30)

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