Social Computing Comrads Connect & The Next Thing You Know…

I had the pleasure of meeting Douglas Pollei at Intel headquarters the second week in November, just days before taking my sabbatical. We had a great talk about the state of corporate social media (can you say that?) that ended when we looked around and saw the once-buzzing cafetteria empty.

Douglas keeps a cool blog by night and for his day job he’s the VP of Internet Strategy and Corporate Development for IKANO Communications Inc., a portfolio company of Insight Venture Partners in New York. In other words, he’s a social media brother of another mother singing that same song about opening up, connecting and creating new opportunities.

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We met through Forrester Research’s Jeremiah Owyang, who personally invited Douglas to check out the September Social Media: Friend or Foe of IT panel at the Intel Developer Forum. We exchanged emails — he even politely kept in contact after a very late response I sent after IDF — then during a business trip to Silicon Valley he saved some time for us to meet. If he were a vendor, I’d have respectfully declined, but the chance to explore accomplishments and conflicts about social media? No way would I miss a chance! Here are some highlights from our talk, as Douglas posted on his blog:

* Intel is seeking to involve more employees in the conversations with outside world. These employees must be not only observers but active contributors in the conversations, otherwise they don’t fully understand and move with the current. The IDF is a great example of the beginnings of this reach out and I believe it will continue to be.

* The intersection of the control and openness mindset creates conflicts in organizations. The true goal is to find the human intersections and how to understand, internalize, and communicate these findings going forward.

* Enterprises can create boundaries of communication, like a walled garden. Some areas are open and others are closed. The key is to organically let those with a voice contribute and potentially elevate these individuals to a higher status of job authority with regard to new media tools (social media, video, audio, etc..). When employees don’t reach out, it is comparable to being at the party and not talking to anyone but expecting value from it. You must mingle to be inspired and know the true and unscripted pulse.

* There will be many who will oppose these types of movements in a large organization but as they join in and see the value, many C’s including CEOs will be endorsers of the openness to know where to take the company, and how to raise stockholder value through innovation.

* VCs, private equity firms, and serial entrepreneurs are continually developing new media solutions that enterprises can adopt to enhance the communications with all channels of their business. Knowing the tech scouts who can see these in advance and know which products will win (and work) will be key to enterprises. Jobs descriptions in these areas are not currently on the enterprise org chart and so it is hard for many to understand their value. It is like telling someone to see a house built when only a floor plan exists.

We agreed to keep our conversation moving ahead. In fact, one thing we talked about was how I believe Intel has some wonderful stories to tell. Stories that are still coming together but will help directly connect Intel technology and innovation with social computing — from personal to commercial to developers and beyond. Intel’s new processor technologies can help people and businesses really get the most from Web 2.0, which seems to be growing and becoming more meaningful to everyone. Well, on the day Intel introduced it’s new Penryn chips — those featuring re-engineered, smaller, energy efficient, faster 45nm transistors — Intel CEO did it! Speaking at Oracle Open World, Intel CEO Paul Otellini (from ZDNet blog by Dan Faber):

“The enterprise is not immune from consumer trends,” Otellini said. Connectivity 24×7 and the need to socialize networks, as in Facebook, are key demands inside and outside the workplace going forward. “As this happens you need to think about how to rearchitect the infrastructure inside your businesses,” he added.

Otellini concluded that the “future in this sense is not very far away. The highly collaborative, interactive global social network is nearly upon us.”

It’s not a prophetic vision, but Otellini wants to make sure the Oracle crowd divines that Intel should be a core part of the rearchitecting of their businesses.

This is something many other companies are doing, or can be doing to help show how they’re relevant in making Web 2.0 and social computing more amazing and useful everyday.

Until we meet again, here is another topic we explored: Corporation being more human and actively finding their way in places like Facebook. This weekend I came across the Harvard Business Review’s “Why your company needs to be on Facebook.” Its was posted on November 9, 2007 by Charlene Li is a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Cluetrain Manifesto? There’s no turning back. There’s moving ahead, integrating, being smart, providing reason and value every step of the way…never without passion and zeal for helping and connecting with others.

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