Will future businesses becomes less structured?

Regular readers of this column will know that I am sceptical of the role of social media in a business environment. While I understand the role it can play in business to consumer communications, with the likes of TripAdvisor building a successful business off the back of it, I’m not convinced of its value in the business to business world.

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Whenever I get into the debate, people always refer me to the role LinkedIn is playing in putting traditional recruitment consultants out of business, as HR departments of major brands use the site themselves to find candidates. Although I don’t disagree, isn’t this largely a B2C sell? We are adding our CVs and building networks on LinkedIn for personal gain – to help us get a better job. It’s not about selling a business service to another business.

Last week I read an article that reinforced my apprehension about social media. In it, the journalist argued that social media’s consumer roots have tainted its perception as a business tool, despite its ability to support group collaboration within businesses and their ecosystems. One of the problems is that the unstructured nature of social media is not a good fit within business, where things need to be done on schedule and in a particular way.

I am intrigued by the journalist’s argument about the need for structure within businesses. This week, I have been involved with the tedious mapping of our processes (as part of our plan to adopt common standards across the globe). While this might appear a little pedantic, the fact that we have processes, and follow them, is testament to how some brands have been successful. If the journalist above is correct, and the biggest obstacle for social media in B2B is the need for process – and if my doubters are also right, and that the future is social – does that imply that future businesses will naturally become less structured?

At a time when it’s argued that SMEs are more agile than big corporates, there may be truth in that, but given that we’re still repairing the damage from the lack of control in the banking sector, are we really ready to relax governance?

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