Social Enterprise

Social media to tear down traditional business power structures

A Gartner report predicts that over the next 10 years social media will help dissolve top-down hierarchies inside businesses, leading to more meritocratic organisations.

Note: This post originally published in our CIO Insights blog on Dec. 3, 2012.

Social media will transform businesses from top-down, hierarchical organisations into meritocratic "social capitalist" communities, according to analyst house Gartner.

The report predicts that as people increasingly cooperate through social media they will expect businesses to take a similarly collaborative approach in the way the take decisions.

"While capitalism won't collapse, there are fundamental changes under way as it morphs to a new form that is more in tune with the technology and attitudes of the 21st century," says Nigel Rayner, research vice president at Gartner.

"The coming capitalist era is that of the Facebook generation, in which the values and behaviours that pervade the internet and social media will also be adopted by innovative and disruptive businesses. With half the world's population under the age of 25, this may happen sooner than many think."

Social media will break down the walls between a business' leadership and its staff, customers, suppliers and other interested parties, the report predicts. The constant dialogue between these groups and the business via social media will result in them having a stronger and more direct influence on a businesses' decision making and strategy than today.

As a result businesses will move away from a hierarchical command-and-control structure to more democratic and meritocratic alternatives, the report says. It predicts that employees will increasingly be judged, and granted influence, based on their contribution in the eyes of this community of interested parties - rather than on job title, age or social background.

Elements of Gartner's "social capitalist" organisation exist today. Businesses have been experimenting with opening up decision-making to staff and customers for years by building community-led idea pools. Initiatives such as Dell's IdeaStorm and the Department for Work and Pension's DWPeas add elements of game design to stimulate contributions, where good ideas are rewarded with points that can be invested to take an idea further.

Not every enterprise can follow a social capitalist model, the Gartner report says but it forecasts those that can will be the "most admired companies" over the next 10 years.

Businesses need to prepare for the impact that social media will have on the corporate world, it says, by ensuring that social media is incorporated into their business and IT plans.

"IT and business leaders must identify how soon their industries and companies will be affected by these changes," says Rayner.

He says organisations should find a senior executive who supports the greater integration of social who can work with the IT department to trial social technologies ahead of wider adoption throughout the organisation.

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

12 comments
DmitryGolubev
DmitryGolubev

By itself Social Media are not enough to overcome top-down approach in business. But combination of SM, Clouds, 3D printing, business process automation and Smart Glasses everywhere can do impossible. The key is to build processes where every participant adds value just following simple rules and doing the job. Communication, coordination and even planning and control should be on technology, not on "manager".

cdurai
cdurai

Gartner report is 99% true. Social media started to rule the world and it will continue. But only the companies that uses the social media sentiments effectively, will win the rise. It's possible only if they use social media monitoring and analyzing tools.

TNT
TNT

Two reason's Gartner is wrong: 1. Common sense security. Most businesses that develop a product cannot afford to have their ideas leaked to the company secretary much less to the world on social media. 2. Human nature dictates that the power and command structure of businesses stay in tact. No CEO wants his voice to be equal to that of the guy in the shipping room. This is just another example of Gartner's inability to understand the world they report on. They need to stop making predictions and just report current industry trends.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

from the social media sites for various reason. At least, that's the trend outside the USA.

mckinnej
mckinnej

and we all know how well that works. You'll get guaranteed gridlock. Much like the U.S. government, you'll find yourself stuck between mob rule or pandering to special interests, both of which are bad. Then there is the fact that those in power do not easily relinquish power. Rest assured, the people in power will do everything they can to ensure this doesn't happen. One last thing, Gartner? Seriously? Does anyone listen to them anymore? Most of their "studies" seem to be nothing more than radical or controversial ramblings designed to drive hit counts. Might as well consult a fortune teller or a Ouija board.

frylock
frylock

The same hopeful predictions were probably made about public ownership of companies as well

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