Thursday, 8 June 2006

Success with social software: Critical mass, not the tools

Ever since I started talking about there being a grey area of difference between social software and other types of groupware, collaboration and other information management tools I've been convinced that its not just about the software but how we choose to use them. Luis Suarez, in his elsua blog, puts forward similar idea but adds that the difference now is the critical mass behind them:

"the key message towards the successful adoption of both wikis and weblogs, amongst other social software available out there, is not the tools themselves, although there have been huge improvements about usability, scalability and accessibility all along, but more the people themselves. That critical mass of knowledge workers that I have talked about in the past and which are the main responsible parties of this hyped social media tools all along... It is that same critical mass the one that is helping push the adoption of those tools because they themselves are acting as technical facilitators as well in the acceptance of such technologies amongst the non-tech savvy folks out there so that the initial technical barriers can be overcome and people get a chance to share what they know and collaborate with others."

Yes, I agree - IT innovation is an important factor in the successful adoption of KM and other collaborative technologies, something I discussed in my 2004 case study (PDF) on Ernst & Young with reference to the following paper:

Nambisan W, Agarwal R & Tanniru M, 1999, 'Organizational mechanisms for enhancing user innovation in information technology', MIS Quarterly, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 365-395.

Well worth a look if you can get hold of it.

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