There’s a general perception that the young are naturals when it comes to social business. Whilst they may be incredibly familiar with using social networks such as Facebook, research shows that they are less comfortable with the use of social tools in a professional sense. There is also a feeling that whilst procedural skills may be strong, there is less awareness of the strategic value of using social media inside the enterprise.
An interesting project conducted last year may go some way to help bridge that gap. It was a partnership between York University and IBM that launched a social business incubation project. 400 students were given experience of using social business tools in the creation of a business plan for a class project.
It was a fully immersive experience, with students utilising virtual workspaces where changes in time zones, locations, and dynamic bundling of software applications continually morphed to support continuous learning and performance improvement.
They used online discussion forums, shared files with peers, conducted meetings online and scheduled their tasks and activities all from within the IBM environment. They even used a poll tool to allow live voting on new business ideas, thus allowing a democratic approach to decision-making to be taken.
The whole thing gave them a valuable experience and appreciation of how social tools can be used in the workplace, and indeed how such tools can change how organisations conduct their business in a flatter and more meritocratic way. It’s an important mental shift to make that sees social as a productivity tool rather than simply something to use in ones leisure time.
Hopefully as more schools offer such facilities, and indeed as more youngsters start tapping into the learning opportunities offered by MOOCs, we will see a greater degree of comfort amongst our younger employees with using social media for professional purposes.