People naturally think of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or even iPhones as the cornerstones of today's "social" phenomenon. But there is something else at work that makes up the "secret sauce" behind these tools and devices. Understanding this is the key for any business to be able to exploit these tools to improve productivity, creativity, growth and profitability. And I'm not talking about incremental improvements, I'm talking about game changing knockout blows that can realign competitive advantage, industry structure and the balance of power economically for decades to come.
Social started out as an advertising or marketing initiative, but it will not end up there. Companies that understand what is truly going on with these new and disruptive technology developments have a new competitive weapon that will give the early adopters significant advantages over laggards.
The "Secret Sauce"
Social technology, as originally defined at The University of Chicago in 1901, " deals with what exists as a revelation of what ought to be, and of the method of realizing what ought to be." Admittedly that's kind of obtuse, but it's referring to social technology as a tool and means to figure out what we want, and to also get what we want."
And that's what it is. Today's social technology changes how we connect, communicate, collaborate and create and shape community. The convergent innovations of new software, hardware, the internet, the cloud, improvements in bandwidth, etc. all make today's social technology possible. Not one device, company or platform but an amalgamation of ingredients that have made today's social recipe possible.
This recipe is also like no other. It's enabling a level of intimacy and immediacy with markets (customers, employees, partners, investors) that has never before been possible—what I call spatial and temporal relevance.
And on the flip side, the elimination of spatial and temporal distortion, makes trust and transparency a vital part of the overall equation for any business. Mr. Spock knows that control over our spatial and temporal environments through today's social technology has advantages and disadvantages for any company. Unfortunately, given that billions of people have adopted this technology, the only logical response is that companies have no choice but to adopt the tools that their markets have. The only way to counter the power of these tools, is with the same tools—it's an arms race.
Why Today's Social Recipe Tastes So Good
Social technology makes us smarter and more productive. It does this by reducing transaction or engagement costs between people, and between people and information. It also makes us smarter by enabling and enhancing group creativity through something called "transactive memory (TM)." In essence, when there are very efficient and effective ways to store, encode, retrieve and deploy information within and between individuals in a group environment, the group literally figures things out better—we get smarter together, than we are apart.
Much like how you and your wife/husband, or partner know what each other knows, and together you can collectively solve problems very efficiently and more creatively than you could apart. This small scale example develops through brute force by spending a lot of time together. In a corporate setting however, with so many different people it needs some help, it needs technology to make it happen-it needs today's social technology.
Being more productive and smarter as a business is the perfect meal for any company. This is the "secret sauce" for companies that understand what is happening with today's social technology. These tools are workforce and intellectual productivity enhancers, i.e., they are competitive weapons that can create new sources of competitive advantage.
Facebook…social media marketing…what is it 2012? Your company will live a long time and prosper like it never has before once today's social technology is brought to bear across your business and throughout all of your markets.