Social media on the organisation

Organisations are complex and communication across large organisations or geographically disparate organisations can be complex.  We have phones, video conferencing, email, even document sharing but the system is inefficient, taking more time than what it should and leaving many important messages unread.  People’s expertise aren’t utilised and feelings are hurt.

Email was meant to revolutionise this system, bring people closer together, make things easier – connect employees and work in with traditional organisational models and contemporary models alike.

As outlined in “Here Comes Everybody” in chapter 2, organisations work on a transaction basis where the outcome from the transition must be worth more than the effort that went in to making the transitions.

In theory, existing tools help this but the ease of communication between two people has had the reverse affect.  Volumes of communication have ensured that transaction costs for an individual can be high for any project and tracking the communication trail, finding the expertise, actions and outcomes over a group of people can become burdensome and inaccurate.

It becomes more and more difficult with a group of people.  As outlined in “The Mythical Man-Month” adding employees can increase the cost of project, both financially and in time as their opinions need to be sort and reconciled with the others in the group.  This is exacerbated if implemented towards the end of the project.  The phenomenon becomes even more difficult if the bulk of the communications is over a one-to-one channel like email.

Traditionally, trying to tackle this issue has been impossible due to IT infrastructure and the cost to develop a system.  Since the advent of popular social channels and the widespread effectiveness and private adoption, such systems are more available for organisations.

Using social media services for organisational communications cheaply (and securely) allows many-to-many communication.   This allows better ideas sharing but importantly it decreases the costs of coordination groups and projects.  There is also enhanced transparency as the majority of communications are not held on a single employees computer.

While the legislative arm has not caught up with social communications as yet so issues of harassment and record keeping will continue to evolve.

Some organisations have lept into the social communication by eliminating the use of corporate email, while many more have taken a hybrid approach.  In many organisations, the issues of IT security, set-up budgets and corporate culture have to be overcome, the tools are now available to improve the efficiency of organisational communication – and decrease the transaction costs of doing business.

Sam Tickell