So I've been at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston all week, but ironically, have not been able to blog because of technical problems with the wireless connection at the hotel. Apparently it did not occur to someone at Sprint that a conference of over 1000 people here to discuss social computing might have a desire to all connect to the Internet at once. They ran out of bandwidth, IP addresses, or something, which made connecting problematic.
Anyway, the issue of generational change in the workforce and its implications for social computing technology has been ubiquitous at this event. In yesterday's plennary session, Dan Keldsen and Carl Frappaolo from AIM presented some research which showed that age played a smaller role than corporate culture in terms of adoption patterns. I have not read the report (link to follow when I get home), but will be interested to see the questions they asked in the survey. Obviously cultures are influenced by generational factors, and the way an organization deploys and uses social computing technology influences the adoption and uptake by end users of all ages. More on this later.
Sean Dennehy and Don Burke of the CIA also discussed this issue in the context of an excellent presentation on the increasing use of wikis and collaborative content environments in the American intelligence community. They observed that if organizations do not act on or accommodate the networked, collaborative workstyles that younger employees bring to the workplace, the urge to conform to the prevailing culture will eventually take hold, and the energy and innovative spirit of wired Millennials could get lost as an advantage to the employer.
An afternoon workshop on blogging in the business, moderated by Jessica Lipnack, produced an interesting discussion on blogs as a vehicle for intergenerational knowledge transfer. In a session earlier today, SAP's Denis Browne pointed to Northwest Mutual Insurance as a success story in exactly this application of social computing. I was made aware of this example last summer in conversations with Forrester's Oliver Young, and should definitely follow up, as it is the purest real-world example of using social media to capture and transfer the tacit knowledge of older workers.
To be continued... ande if you're here, come see me at Mike Gotta's panel on Developing a Next Generation Worforce, 10:45 am in the Griffin Room.