What began as a new communication tool used primarily by physicists, techies, and teenagers has gone mainstream, pulling us all—some kicking and screaming—into the throws of the social media era. This era marks a new evolution in the now 40-year-old computing paradigm. First it was mainframes, then personal computers, then the Internet, and now it's the social web. Over time, the emphasis has shifted from the underlying technology itself to the effect that technology is having on the organizations and the people that use these tools. As we have seen, social technology is causing a seismic shift in consumer behavior that is affecting businesses, industries, markets, economies, and cultures everywhere. And it has only just begun. If I had to wager a guess, I'd say that we are in the bottom half of the first inning of this ball game. As such, it is hard to imagine just how far-reaching the effect of the social web will be. What are some of the change trajectories that we are likely to see in the next few years?
Social Enterprises Come of Age
We have seen several examples of companies that are well on their way to becoming social enterprises, those living, breathing entities that are comprised of networks of people, some of whom technically work “for” the company, and many more who do not, that are involved and interested in what a company is and does. Some of these companies were born-on-the-Web like Threadless, Amazon, FaceBook, and Google; others have long, predigital ...