Yesterday, the best seminar I attended at BlogWorld was the SAP Global Survey presented by Shel Israel and Mike Prosceno. I was shocked when it became clear that only nine people were sitting in a room with space for at least 50. I partially blame the lack of attendees on the lack of a descriptor about the seminar subject in the conference materials.
A little of the back story…SAP’s Mike Prosceno contacted Shel to conduct a series of interviews around the world, getting a feel for where social media is headed. If I remember right, Shel’s conducted roughly 50 interviews and submitted a preliminary report to SAP. From those interviews, Shel shared the following lessons:
- I’m not in control
- Kid’s stuff. That’s the compelling reason to adopt.
- Social Networks is the killer app. Everywhere.
- Takes something we just used to do in the coffee house and do it with people that we only meet with in virtual places.
- Measurement is not yet adequate. But progress is being made.
- The Long Trails of geek-to-enterprise is getting shorter. Kids may overtake the geeks anyhow.
- The world is not yet flat, but it’s getting hillier. Closing chasms.
- Cultue matters in countries & companies
When asked why SAP was engaging in this type of work, Mike responded that a large company is like a super tanker in open seas—it takes a lot of time to slow and make course corrections and the data is needed to help guide SAP’s future strategy. The results also have an HR implication for companies like SAP. Shel pointed out that the upcoming generation of workers grew up in a world where the Internet always existed, it’s native to their gene pools. And they’re like Teflon when it comes to traditional marketing campaigns. If all goes well, Shel will continue to conduct interviews to increase the reliability and depth of his findings.
The most intriguing portion of this seminar was the discussion around what’s happening in China and how Twitter has taken off because the government hasn’t figured out how to filter it. My attention was caught due to Yahoo’s recent appearance and testimony in D.C. on the role they played in providing user information to the Chinese government that was then used to arrest and imprison a reporter. The language used to defend their actions was definitely geared towards CYA:
The Yahoo executive said then that the company “had no information about the nature of the investigation” when it received a demand for Shi’s e-mail records from China’s State Security Ministry. In fact, the demand specifically said the information was for “a case of suspected illegal provision of state secrets,” a charge frequently made against dissidents. When Yahoo executives took note of the language, they did not alert U.S. lawmakers to correct the record…Callahan attributed misinformation he supplied to a misunderstanding. “At the time of my testimony in 2006, it was my understanding that the Shi Tao demand contained no information regarding the specific details of the investigation,” Callahan said in a prepared statement. “I now know that the demand did contain additional information.”
As social media and technology spread around the world, companies will be faced with a similar issue—how does one engage with a foreign government and what protection is owed to its users? The SAP survey highlights what I believe is becoming a more common conversation: how will the world (and its governments) respond to creating a coffee house meeting in the virtual world and sharing conversations over the web instead of over the fence? For all the potential, it’s clear that other issues must be addressed and work like Shel’s is vital to discovering what must come next.
I wish more people had been there. Hopefully, you’ll take the time to visit Shel’s site and follow his efforts.