Mar 23, 2012

Outdated Approach – 4Cs

Let’s face it. For those who read “Enterprise 2.0” –Niall Cook, how useful is his 4Cs approach? He classified social software according to the ‘actions’ involved or primary ‘functions’ that facilitate those actions. If you ask me, this didn't do the job very well. And it is particularly irrelevant when it comes to up-to-date social networking service like Facebook or Twitter, which are becoming synonymous with social media.

Take Twitter. Although Twitter is relatively simple social software, it has ‘functions’ of Follow (subscription), @Replies & Mentions (comments & trackback), #hashtag (tag), DM (instant messaging), photo & video sharing, yet sometimes itself called microblogging service. And actions involved are really up to users: blogging, social bookmarking, chatting, syndicating or social presence which Cook categorized Twitter into. Who knows which one is Twitter’s ‘primary’ function and action?

His taxonomy alone is too rigid to deal with such a dynamic and revolutionary phenomenon. As he himself appreciated, classification of social software belongs to the realm of folksonomies, allowing a dynamic categorization as time goes by.

Cook’s effort was probably for encouraging businesses to introduce or experiment social software by oversimplifying the nature of it. But, I really don’t think an implementation of social software according to what they do will be successful. Look at Google’s continuous failure in social media. They have been at the cutting edge of these technology and trying to feed us with state-of-the-art social experience. But they kept flopping.

Why is that? To me, social media is all about literally society. People have already found, networked, lived in and empowered by their own societies, in which objective functionality itself is far less important than experience & knowledge shared with their citizen. They don’t want a revolution. It’s a totally different age from the time The Beatles shouted so.

Cook set the scene – “the membrane that separates your staff from the outside world is getting thinner every day and most of them are already operating outside the firewall anyway.” So, if businesses want to truly benefit from Twitter inside the organizations, they should introduce not Twitter functionality, not Twitter inside the firewall, Twitter itself which comes with existing societies out there. Otherwise, as Cook said, “You’re probably better sticking with existing clunky enterprise systems”, which are functional enough. As cited in the book, Dennis Moore gave a reason – “People are bringing from home an expectation of how computing should be.” Nowadays, “how computing should be” is Communicating, Cooperating, Collaborating & Connecting on Facebook & Twitter.

To be fair, I don’t know how relevant it was when the book was published in 2008. But where the term ‘social media’ has evolved and begun to indicate Facebook, Twitter and the alike coming, the approach of focusing on functionality is outdated. What do you have to say about Cook’s 4Cs approach? Please let me discuss with you.

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