LOOKING TO THE FUTURE 183
Social technologies serve as a ‘‘marketplace’’ for the exchange
of information. In this market, the key medium of exchange is
knowledge, and the ‘‘wealthiest’’ traders are those organizations
that are using the knowledge to improve their products and
service offerings. Social technologies enable multiple simultane-
ous connections between groups of people, so that the potential
value of the network is not just n + n, but n
n
.
7
By capitalizing on
these connections and linkages in a virtual trading marketplace,
organizations can combine in multiple ways the various insights
provided by thought leaders.
Social media will facilitate participation in a broader
community. Formal organizational boundaries will continue to
blur, and new ones will become more defined by the organization’s
sense of community, rather than by its formal legal structures.
In the blurring of boundaries, we will all more clearly see that
we are each other’s customers. Organizations will begin to realize
that totally separating the internal from the external is a false
dichotomy. In other words, one cannot divorce the internal from
the external because internal uses and applications can drive
external results, and vice versa. A common misconception is
that an ‘‘organization’’ is a formal legal entity (a corporation,
a nonprofit, a government body). As discussed throughout this
book, many in the field of organization development tend to
take a broader view of organizations as (sociotechnical) systems.
We’ve advocated here for systems that are more open rather
than closed. The use of social media will help redefine traditional
views of organizations not as closed systems but as open entities
that participate in a larger ecosystem.
How Social Media Itself Will Change
We cannot foretell the future, but we do believe we can see
around the bend. Organizations all over the world are beginning
to integrate social media into everything they do, and this is
184 SOCIAL MEDIA AT WORK
changing the way large and small organizations accomplish their
goals. The use of social media is the next catalyst for huge change.
Consider the evolution of music from vinyl to cassette to 8-track
to CD to downloadable tunes. With the arrival of each new tool,
the music lover’s behaviors and norms shifted. We anticipate
that social media will yield the same transformational impact.
In the very near future, we will witness a continuous launch
of new forms of social media technologies. Their inherently
collaborative nature and the availability of open source software
will accelerate their improvement to meet the changing needs of
users. Here are just a few of the ways we see social media tools
evolving.
The variety and availability of social media will continue
to proliferate. Remember when cell phones hit the marketplace
years ago? One size fit all. Today we see cell phones and digital
recording media of every size, variety, color, and capacity. Over a
short period of time, social media has proliferated in type, reach,
and capacity. The options are abundant. We see this potpourri
of options continuing to grow exponentially as creative, tech-
savvy developers improve on existing tools and invent solutions
that meet our every need. Our thirst for helpful conveniences
will keep the innovations coming in a continuous spiral. Just
as ‘‘pervasive computing’’ spread in the late 1990s, social media
will be everywhere, in both developed and developing countries,
silently helping to transform our global socioeconomic landscape
and redistributing social, financial, and intellectual capital. Social
media will permeate everything we doeverywhere, all the time.
Users will demand simplicity. The bubble-up process we
described in Chapter Six is occurring globally, as organizations
are embarking on the exploration phase, experimenting with a
wide selection of tools to suit every need and preference. But indi-
viduals and organizations will eventually become overwhelmed
with choice, and people will demand more integration. Rather

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