There's a shift among organizations to drive the adoption of enterprise social software among their users. Enterprise Social Software is a key component of Enterprise 2.0, which brings together aspects of Web 2.0 technologies for greater collaboration capabilities. At first, the concept of Enterprise Social Software doesn't seem different from what has always occurred on an organization's Intranet- information is gathered and posted to an internal set of webpages for all employees to view and become aware. What has changed is the process of posting information and who manages the information that is posted. It takes an institutionalized set of processes for posting information (development, submission, review, approval, posting) and makes it free-form so anybody can post anything for everybody to consume and it's immediately available.
The challenge is the reliance on participation for User Generated Content (UGC) that is both relevant and useful. In a previous blog I talk about how The 80/20 Rule is Actually 90-9-1 for Online Communities and ways to increase participation among online communities. Unfortunately, greater participation does not ensure greater value. Value is in the quality of the contribution and one person can have one idea that completely revolutionizes the ways we work, live, play and learn. The video by Clay Shirky presenting at a TED conference on institutions vs. collaboration provides excellent insights to a collaborative environment and how it's disruptive to an institution.
An interesting aspect of online communities is not only is the content user generated, but so is the perceived value of that content. The same members that contribute content can vote and rate content throughout the community. Trending metrics allow active content to bubble up to the top and be quickly found based on the needs of people coming into the community. It changes the model for online collaboration from hub and spoke to one of peer-to-peer. Sounds like chaos, but then again what disruptive technology or in this case process isn't? Don't just encourage your employees to participate by providing content, but encourage them to participate by rating and commenting on content. In other words, participation that allows the community to self-govern the quality of content and steer the direction of the community in a collaborative way that demonstrates business value.
Post a comment and let me know what you see in terms of the amount of participation your online communities receive and how the community perceives the level of quality for those contributions.