How Social Technologies Can Kickstart Innovation

Today's Web 2.0 technologies foster collaboration and ignite business innovation, Forrester Research says. Are you helping move your company toward a "need to share" culture?

The collaboration landscape is no longer about isolated groups of people that work together to complete a specific job. Today, enterprise collaboration extends more broadly across the organization, encouraging partnerships across teams that might not have previously worked together. What's the reason behind this shift?

It stems from social technologies in the workforce, converting companies from a "need to know" environment to a "need to share" culture that promotes an open collaboration approach where sharing is the norm and information control is at the discretion of the individual.

This shift toward increased collaboration is apparent, even as enterprises emerge from the economic downturn. In fact, 65% of organizations now support at least one Web 2.0 technology for internal or external collaboration and communication purposes. You might wonder why these enterprises are responding to the downturn in a counterintuitive way. It's because firms are thinking beyond the recession and looking to grab long-term competitive advantage in the market. They want to find, fund, and reward new ideas that will move the company in a new direction to gain greater market share and earn larger profits.

These new ideas will start to become the reality (and in some cases already have) as the Millennials enter the workforce. These digital natives bring with them a technology fluency that Baby Boomers simply don't have, introducing new norms for how to manage time and accomplish tasks. They wield social and real-time communication tools to influence their peers and the world around them, helping to amplify the conversations employees have every day. This is great news for firms looking to enhance their innovation strategies. As firms move toward greater levels of sharing as part of embracing the changing workforce and the wide availability of social software platforms designed for business, the drive for innovation within the organization starts to naturally occur.

Forrester's current working definition of Web 2.0 helps to shed some light on the connection between innovation and the larger trend toward enterprise 2.0 and the emerging social enterprise:

Web 2.0 is a set of technologies and applications that enable efficient interaction among people, content, and data in support of collectively fostering new businesses, technology offerings, and social structures.

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