E 2.0 is tomorrow's "Hello World". The way LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and to a lesser extent Xing and Orkut are taking over the world is ample proof that heavy-headed technology can deliver light-hearted solutions.
Friendship, Business and even Courtship are the horses on which these communication and collaboration environments have been riding into the sunset. Although not in the classic romantic mold of Alfred Noyes' Highway Man, they have nonetheless charmed millions into falling madly in love with them.
This is all fine and known to the world and so it was natural that the immense power of social media would find its way into today’s corporate world. A corporate world that is no longer isolated to a single nation, race or religion. Globalization had given birth to a social tsunami along with the immense promise, a phenomenon probably pipped at the post only by the European discoverers who connected the separated physical land masses of Earth. However, this post isn’t about the significance of E 2.0. It aims to answer how E 2.0 can be imbibed within a globalized corporate.
Being an admirer and a keen follower of Dr. Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor), former Under Secretary General of UN and current Member of Indian Parliament, I was fortunate to view his speech at TED on YouTube (another social media icon).
What struck me was how he claims the next wave of power being all about Soft Power. Although coined by Joseph Nye in the 1980s at a time when MacDonald’s, Coca Cola, Nike and Hollywood was spreading the influence of America all over the world, soft power was identified by Dr. Tharoor as the single important factor which would allow India to exercise its influence over the world as it grows into a power to beckon and respect through IT, Curry Houses and Bollywood among others.
The political debate on Hard versus Soft Power was crushed with the waning positive outlook and influence America today commands from the world. Here, I do not mean the cruel and meaningless violence touting mercenaries and terrorists. If at all Bush Jr. had lost was not his War on Terror, bin Laden, Iraq or Taliban, what he had lost was the strong attractive charisma of America; The Land of the Opportunities and Freedom. Although a Republican himself, Reagan had quite successfully used ‘Soft Power’ to emerge victorious over erstwhile USSR in the Cold War.
A similar challenge lies ahead with the corporate world as they set their agenda of adopting or discarding E 2.0. It isn’t about technology; it is about exercising power over the use of E 2.0. On one side, there is the increasing pressure on Information Governance and on the other side; there is the demanding Voice of Customer (internal). A tough choice to make indeed for an organization, yet, a peep back into times will show that ‘Soft Power’ has always had better and more long lasting benefits arise than the exercising stringent rules and regulations over the natural ability and desire to express.
Unless organizations learn to look in the mirror to honestly accept the paradoxes that lie within, the cultural nuances that make them tick and the team spirit that makes them click, they will continue to pursue E 2.0 as a technical solution hunting for admin controls and access rights. This definitely is not what Enterprise 2.0 is about. Surely, the need has come for Public Diplomacy and Soft Power to merge as an influential approach to bringing home the power of E 2.0, softly…
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