Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One-Way Adaptability is Key in Social Software

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I forget now how I got this link, but I was recently notified of a report published by Accenture. The report, "New-Generation Workers" Want Technology Their Way, was published last month. The report has already been reviewed widely in the blogsphere, for example, here. I, however, wanted to add my two cents because I think it summarizes and emphasizes what I evangelize the most: social software should adapt to your needs, and not the other way around!

Now, Accenture's survey wasn't social software specific. It was about technology in general. However, I would like to point out the needs of this new workforce. And attracting this new workforce is often one of the business needs I hear from my customers. And that's one of the business needs that drive them to look at social software.

The needs of the new workforce:

  • Millennials want to choose their technology
  • Younger employees insist on state-of-the-art technology
  • Organizations will need to provide new communication and collaboration channels. Millenials expect employers to provide communication channels such as online chat, instant messaging, mobile text messaging, and RSS feeds to communicate with their customers and clients.
  • Coming to the end of e-mail as we know it. [...] High school and young college students spend less than two hours a week e-mailing, instead preferring text, instant messaging, and communicating on social networking sites.

In my opinion, this new workforce has figured out ways to be productive. They have a system. They know how to collaborate. And, they expect their employers to provide these same collaboration tools. I guess it's like taking away email for those of you addicted to email. How will you ever collaborate ?

Here are the preferred communication methods of these Millenials (graphic from Social Computing Magazine):

I'm actually surprised that they prefer mobile text messages over RSS feeds. But that's why it's important that when you are reviewing and selecting social software, you choose a platform that adapts to a user's needs. That way, the end user decides how to use the software, how to better take advantage of it, how to make the best of it.

Adaptability is also the sum of Principle 5 and Principle 8 of the Principles of Social Software.

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