The business application of social technologies, both within the enterprise, and with customers, suppliers and partners, has created a new paradigm of interaction and contribution, and is creating a new competitive edge for early adopters.
The biggest organisations have been the first to see the benefits of improved collaboration, knowledge-sharing and team-innovation within a geographically dispersed workforce. Shared knowledge, shared experiences and shared content are the core of social business value. By its nature, much of the content is conversational and indeed, transitional. However, if it has value in current time, then it may well have value over time.
Expert answers, team chats, tagged sources and blog thoughts will have a value for now, but may also have a value for future enquiries or further analysis, providing the context to decision-making processes. Some exchanges may also be transactional. They may be the trigger for further actions or business processes, particularly if generated by customers, or on websites, or within case-worker teams. On the downside, they may also have a role to play in staff disputes, compliance audits and litigation.
Like any other content, therefore, social content needs to be managed, from creation, through communication, and over its useful lifetime, to disposition. Some organisations are taking the approach that social content can be created in a best-of-breed mix of software and web services, but is then swept into a records management system or simply archived.
Others consider that the battle for coherent management and future exploitation is best won by ensuring that corporate social content is created in a controlled environment, where relevance can be better assessed, and where users can more easily opt to record the exchanges that they consider to be of value. Tagging and context are more likely to be coherent, opening up the future value for search and content analytics, and easing the task of e-discovery and retention. A further advantage is that selective security can be better enforced, both within the firewall, and for multi-disciplinary teams working on joint projects or case-based collaborations.
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