This is another in a series of my notes on Lotusphere 2011. I am very pleased to be back after ten years. The Wednesday morning keynote focused on the “Future of Social Business” The first speaker was Andy McAfee and said enough to fill a bloig post so I will deal with the rest of the session in a follow post. It was mentioned that there have been 9500 tweets and 23000 blogs so far. I am not surprised at the numbers but thought the ratio would be reversed given how quick it is to generate a lot of tweets
Andy McAfee first said he did not like the term social business and told IBM he could come in good faith to a social business. But then he said he was kidding. He does not care about the term because something fundamental is happening. He said he would convey to us what the research is telling so far. He asked how do you convince the business academic that change is coming? First point is that weak ties are strong. But many academics already believe this. However, the issue here is that the technology tool kit to support weak ties has been weak, Now the tools are strong.
Second, crowds can be wise. But many academics doubt this. They like certified people. However, he added the point that markets work. For example, most of us not want to live in a centrally planned economy even if the leader is the smartest person around. Markets work for many types predictions better than experts. Now they are working to predict product success. Andy said this power can make experts nervous.
Third, with more eye balls, more bugs are shallow. There are clearinghouses for solving scientific problems. You can put out problems and others can present solutions. One predictor that a problem will get solved is the diversity of people who look at it. Now it is cheap to broadcast problems. Nelson Mandela said the work of a leader is to find everyone’s genius. Now he is one of the smartest leaders around in my view and this is just one example.
Fourth, there are diamonds in the social mind. Now there are good tools to find these diamonds. People have used Google search trends to forecast things like shifts in the housing market. If you are planning to move to a new location you will likely search about its housing market in advance. Tweet streams can give you reaction to movies and predict thier long term success. Watson is another example of what computers can do with unstructured data.
Fifth, being social benefits individuals. If you are more central in a digital social network good things happen to you. The better your network the more productive you are and the less likely you will be laid off in a down turn.
Next he pointed out an unfounded claim: social benefits the enterprise. Academics still doubt this. They say that case studies are just anecdotes. However, he said if he was in business he would want his competitors run by business academics as they are too timid.
He next made two predictions. First there will be a productivity boost through the new tools. Second, we are entering an era where not all will win. It will stretch out the pack rather than compressing it. So you need to get social to be a winner.
I have heard Andy speak many times. One thing I like is that, unlike some other thought leaders, he says something new each time. This was not an exception and another useful presentation from him. My next post will cover the rest of this keynote session.