[ This is Part 2 of--I don't know how many parts of the--SAP Global Survey Report on Culture, Business and Social Media. This summarizes the key points of what I learned while working on this report.}
2. Seven Key Findings
A great deal of anecdotal information was garnered from these interviews. Braided into the survey were excerpts from 30 additional conversations I have conducted in Europe and the US as research for a book project. Additionally, nuggets have been gleaned from current news items. Finally, are observations I have from the many conversations I have held at conferences in Europe and the US and in Internet conversations with people all over the world.
In addition to this somewhat lengthy report, I will be submitting in the new few weeks an Appendix containing bulleted summaries of the interviews conducted specifically for this SAP Global Report.
My greatest challenge for this report has been to boil down these entire finding to just a few easily digestible points. The following section is my best effort. While, they may appear a bit obvious, they are the result of a good deal of listening and thinking. Each has significant strategic implications for a global enterprise, or so it seems to me.
1. While it is proceeding at an uneven pace, Social Media is fomenting change in all developed and developing countries. The pace of that change is accelerating. The results will be fundamental and long-lasting changes to most large and centralized institutions including media, government, education and most certainly businesses of all sizes.
2. The inevitably of this social media revolution rests in the fact that it is being driven by young people—under the age of 30 down to elementary school age. The revolution began, not with social media, but with the Internet. Most freshmen who entered universities last month were born after the introduction of the Web. Communicating and purchasing online is as natural for them as using the telephone is to their parents. As it enters the workplace and markets, this Online Generation is not influenced by traditional marketing, but by peers. They are unlikely to be recruited for employment by a Help wanted ad and they are unlikely to join an enterprise that does not allow them to use the social media tools of their choice. Online conversations will have great influence on what this Online generation buys, view, listens to, where its members travel to and where they stay beginning shortly and remaining for at least the next 50 years.
3. While a mere two years ago, text blogs were the only power tool of social media, today there is an eve expanding social media toolshed. Blogs themselves have transformed into multimedia things that include video, audio and images. Micro-blogging, where people blog in tiny clips is now in nascent stages but is already wildly popular and demonstrates hw social media will go mobile.
4. Of all the social media tools, the social network is far away the most popular. FaceBook is the most popular and fastest growing of them among the growing number of people who use English to communicate on the Internet. But people still prefer to use their native languages as is evidenced by the fact that Hi5, a seldom mention, San Francisco-based social network, that focuses on international languages, is among the world’s five most popular social media sites.
5. Because geography is so much less of a barrier to peer-to-peer communications than was true a decade ago, cultural differences may be lessening. There is evidence of a global cultural blending in the long term. However, in the immediate future, language and culture remain highly important and need to be factored into any goal strategies. Someday one size may fit all, but that day will not come in the next five years.
6. The “geek-to-suit gap is narrowing.” The time from technology enthusiast embracing something new to its adoption in the mainstream enterprise is growing shorter. It took 12 years for the enterprise to address PCs in a programmatic fashion, after the first of them were smuggled in through the back doors of large companies. It has taken about two years from blogs to be the craze of the technically sophisticated to the current level of enterprise interest. According to Blogworld, 89% of US businesses believe blogs are becoming more important for their businesses, up from a Polaris Study estimate of 2% in 2005.
7. Currently, few enterprises are paying much attention to either social networks or online video. It is likely that the speed of which this changes will exceed the two years it took blogs to bridge the geek-to-enterprise gap.