Brilliant New York Times UX designer and author Alex Wright, someone I’ve had the privilege to work closely with, said to me a decade ago that “Tags are the new Mullet”. Back in the mid 2000′s, those garish word-clouds made popular by Delicious showed up everywhere and only those of us geekily-inclined really employed them in any consistent way.
Today’s mullet is the Activity Feed in Enterprise Social Networking applications. Don’t get me wrong – feeds have their purpose and their place. But as the pendulum swings carelessly from people to people, to machine to people and back, somehow, someone decided that the answer to enterprise social network ghost towns was to pipe transactional data into activity feeds and that would make it all all right. It helps for certain use cases but the behavioral change required to get consistent value from this can be herculean. And who asked for this massive work shift to begin with?
The next generation of successful social business programs won’t come from just cramming more information and data into social metaphors that no one asked for. It will come from bringing social metaphors right to the point of business context: be that an enterprise social network, an application, a location, an API or a Internet enabled device or machine.
Bit of a tactical post for a change but its something I’ve observed along the way and in the context of maturation of our industry, it’s important. And talk to Line Of Business or CIOs that have these running in their orgs for 6+ months – you’ll get a feel for this.
We did a dis-service to the promise of social business by just expecting that Facebook for the Enterprise would gather steam. It didn’t. Now lets really ask our selves how repeatable and practical it really is to assume massive behavior change on the end users part as we expect that they will sit in front of a feed waiting for transactional pings.
It sounds geekily correct. Even technically awesome. But there’s more to social business than this.
(Cross-posted @ Pretzel Logic - Social and Collaborative Business)