Why do we need a Manifesto?
We’ve been talking about applying social tools inside business since 2006 or before and we are no where near realising the potential for real social collaboration to make business more effective. We need a roadmap to set us on the right course, we need to think differently and to change culture. The Agile Elephant Manifesto encapsulates our blueprint for making Social Business work in thirteen theses. This post is the second in a sequence of 13 which explains each thesis in sequence.
Why Social Business?
We don’t mean the Professor Muhammad Yunus definition of a business which has a social rather than financial objective. We do mean a business adopting social tools and a different, more open and collaborative approach. We’ve been using terms like Web 2.0, Office 2.0, Collaboration, Knowledge Management, Enterprise 2.0, Social Enterprise or Social Business. Social Business is probably the best term currently, but the language is of minor importance compared to the real objective of changing business culture to add value.
2 of 13 – Business has become a social object
It’s our belief that although business has always been social, it is now becoming a social object and we need to foster and facilitate those networks to add both tangible and intangible value.
Business as a Social Object: Social networks are acting as platforms for individuals to coordinate all the activities businesses used to do. The collaborative economy is now making headlines. Companies like Airbnb and Uber which rely on trusted parties are completely bypassing traditional hierarchical capitalist business models. Airbnb has risen in 6 years from a concept (dreamt up by 2 people when they rented out their apartment floor for the night) to a social platform which will potentially become the world’s largest hotelier within the next year. We believe that many – even all – markets could become just nodes in this social mesh – business is becoming a social object.
World as a Social Market: Social networks will allow any capacity to find any demand. Transaction costs will be minimised between buyers, sellers and information holders as the cost of bringing buyer and seller together falls to insignificant numbers. Ronald Coase predicted this in the 1930’s. The size of the firm in the case of a supplier to Airbnb is nothing more than your spare room and an internet connection.
Trust and transparency: We foresee that trust and transparency will be maximized. Any business which tries to limit transparency and remain opaque or tries to create arbitrage where there is none will find it difficult to compete and maintain their strategic position.
Regulation: The social mesh will become part of the infrastructure – just like the Internet itself has become part of the infrastructure. Over time, this mesh will be regulated – infrastructures always do. Regulation will be complex and we need to ensure that the regulations introduced have society’s best interests at heart.
You control your network: The sheer scale of the mesh will be vast and we will need tools to navigate it. Some tools will come from the infrastructure but we imagine that some will come from yourself. Think VRM , the concept of tools being created for individuals to manage and control their own data, allowing access only to those to whom they give permission. We imagine that we could all own our own smart systems with data controlled by ourselves – like owning an electric appliance which you plug into the mesh. It could source the relevant data, barter the deal and present the options in order of importance, then automatically make all the necessary arrangements for you. The opportunity for profiteering in these transactions would be minimal.
Utopian dream?: May be. It would rely very much on total trust and could go very wrong in bad hands. Be prepared for the shadows.
“The Future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed” – William Gibson, 1993