As social media adoption is beginning to gain ground, "the" requests are starting to trickle in. "I want to start blogging/wiki/forum internally or externally....but I only want a certain group to have access to the blog/wiki/forum." The enterprise and marketing social mediaites have done our due diligence and attempted to find solutions to meet the business needs, but it typically means advising them that social media may not be the right fit. Then, I read today that a company called Mixx (Digg equivalent) is adding private email and group message boards to its offerings. Whoa! Stop the presses. I am challenged by what appears to me to be counter intuitive. Stepping back and looking into the enterprise I ask, "Can social productivity really be social productivity with velvet ropes?"
I have always been of the mindset that in order for community to be built, innovation to be fostered and collaboration to be achieved, that everything needed to be public. If you started to form "silos" of private groups, private messages, private forums, private blogs then your ability to leverage the power of the community would be lost. As Steve Bell in and Sam Lawrence have referenced in previous posts "Social productivity...is about getting work done outside the team of like-minded people you work with everyday....an idea is introduced and all sorts of people get to chime in...your idea has developed openly by all sorts of people who bring their own valuable perspective." Sam cites Wikipedia as a prime example of nontraditional collaboration at it's finest. Intel started internal blogs & forums in 2004; built Intelpedia, our first internal wiki, back in 2005; and subsequently launched the internal IT Innovation Zone, collaboration & sharing site, in 2006. These are open to the entire company and we have had strong success with these tools. So is IT now getting requests to go smaller, go private because these tools aren't meeting business needs or because we as a company haven't fully embraced the culture shift to social productivity? With the Mixx announcement I am giving deeper thought to what social media looks like within the enterprise; the desired results of social productivity and whether private subcommunities are necessary for optimal collaboration and communication. I still say "no". I beleve that velvet ropes and social productivity are like oil and water. They don't mix. Am I wrong?