There are those who claim “email is dead”, “search is dead”, “ECM is dead” and so on. I’ve been guilty of that too. We’re right but it doesn’t matter. Technology is always superseded by better, faster, more disruptive technology. But few businesses are in the business of spending money on the latest and greatest tech.
We can decry the risks of not adopting. We can outline the worst-case scenarios for not moving. But the presence of risk, alone, does not motivate action. Many of us drive to work in a car every day. Yet there is a .02% chance we’ll be involved in a fatal car accident (PDF). The risk is there. It is real. It is insignificant to most of us and doesn’t prevent us from engaging in “business as usual”. We tend to operate in a risk evaluation matrix like the one to the right.
In all likelihood, the risk of not adopting new tech and the business practices that come along with it is too low to warrant changing from established “traditional” business practice. In the absence of certain harm for not adopting, the “old proven ways” are seen as preferred. They can even be acknowledged as sub-optimal without such an acknowledgement triggering some sort of process improvement or remediation activity.
That is why obtaining “executive buy-in” and finding a champion is so important in these, the early days of social business (yes, we’re still in the early days of social business).
Look at places where there was rapid adoption of new technology and business process. I can think of one: Sarbanes-Oxley software. In the wake of Enron & Worldcom, the risks of *not* adopting SOX technology and workflow and audit practices was seen as too great a risk with harms all too certain for non-compliance (even accidental).
When looking at it from the side of the advocate, the invested, the social business champion, we can (rightfully) decry the lack of progress, the opportunity missed and the potential wasted in failing to change culture, practice and technology to leverage all the wonders new social tech has to offer. But the business community is reticent to change behavior unless the risks of not changing are too high and immediate to ignore OR the benefits are so immediate and great as to outweigh the inevitable pain of retooling, retraining and re-engineering process.
So we continue to work to demonstrate massive and immediate value. We work to mitigate the pain of retooling. We offer up best practices like this flow chart (PDF) and this step by step guide (PDF) to assist with retraining. So we work to demonstrate massive and immediate value. We work to mitigate the pain of retooling. We offer up blogs and best practices like this to assist with the retraining.
Meanwhile, we can take heart that we’re on the right path. Business will progress at the pace of business and sometimes fortune favors the bold. But, by definition, the bold are few. So keep at it. Social business has definite and demonstrable value. Keep grinding. The change will come.