Social Business - The Patchwork Elephant 02 - think forward 40 years - Janet Parkinson


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Within Social Media Week London 2013 The Patchwork Elephant Team ran an event discussing the future of Social Business (or what some people call Enterprise 2.0) - about using social tools inside as well as outside the organisation, for internal and external teams to collaborate to make business more effective. We ran a similar event within the February 2010 edition of Social Media Week London. We called it "Social Media in Enterprises - The Elephant in the Ecosystem" and we used a patchwork elephant to symbolise the theme - it's a patchwork elephant because it's very large, in the room, but it's hard to see the whole thing!

Business models are changing, and social technologies are ever more important in the way we work, but where are we really? 8 Different speakers asked:

* How has social business evolved?
* What is the current state?
* How does social integrate with our systems and processes today?
* What are the challenges for implementation and achieving success?
* Where are we headed?

Our speakers were:

Alan Patrick - Broadsight (and The Patchwork Elephant Team)
Janet Parkinson - Technotropolis (and The Patchwork Elephant Team)
Will McInnes - NixonMcInnes (author of Culture Shock)
Mat Morrison - Starcom MediaVest Group (World's Oldest Living Social Media Guru™)
Luis Saurez - IBM (famous for living outside of the inbox)
Neil Usher - WorkEssence
Anne-Marie McEwan - The Smart Work Company (author of Smart Working: Creating the Next Wave)
David Terrar - D2C (and The Patchwork Elephant Team)

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  • Concept that by considering the absolutely "out there", the unthinkable become thinkable
  • For the next 5 minutes I’m going to have to ask you to open up your minds and imaginations and try to think forward 40 years… Lets think the unthinkable and see if it becomes thinkable…What if businesses became nothing more than a social object – that social networks would be used simply to coordinate all the activities that businesses used to do– but don’t just take my word for it….…. or.a place people went to or thing they did more for the purpose of connecting socially than doing ‘business’
  • Strong words from James Burke last month on Radio 4 of all places. Who remembers him? Lets just reel back a bit for a quick step back in time to put things into perspective…
  • amous BBC reporter on Tomorrow’s World – key technology show - and chief presenter for the BBC’s coverage of the first moon landing in 1973 to make predictions for what life would be like in 20 years time – so 1993. You have to remember that back in 1973 the only computers around filled floors, there were very few. There was no internet, no email, no mobile phones….. Technology was seen as big and brooding…
  • 146 Million computers in fact!So when he said last month
  • So when he said on the show that in 40 years time…. we thought it worth investigating at least to see how this could happen
  • He is saying that in 40 years time we could all own personal nanofactories which could reproduce stuff on a molecular levelvirtually anything – for virtually nothingAir, water, dirt and acetylene gas (for carbon)– manufacture virtually everything from gold, a bottle of Chardonnay, food, our utilities, or even a house become entirely autonomous. Actually, perhaps this isn’t quite so far out there as it sounds. Take the current trends of everything being smaller cheaper and networked - like 3d printing and internet of things and push this out over 40 years…Earth / Air / Fire / Water (And with the increased refinement of solar power as a key source of energy? – James doesn’t actually mention this). Richard Feinman actually predicted this 50 years ago.
  • And then consider this working assemblerfrom University of Manchester which works at a molecular level they’re planning to modify to build penicillin. Loads of other examples..What’s the endgame?Systems already in existence which already allow you to manipulate atoms to build molecules which allow you to build stuff. This ‘working assembler’ was unveiled at the University of Manchester by Professor David Leigh. He has plans to modify the machine to make it capable of producing penicillin. It's not yet building homes and is yet - but it is perhaps a step in the right direction.So what’s the end game?
  • Eric Drexler It means what it says on the tin… It is almost unthinkable – but let’s make it thinkable…Let’s focus just on business…
  • Production – at home or locally on demand – knock out large scale manufacturingTransport – no goods to be moved around the transport industry would be under threatConsumer facing businesses selling goods would be under threat – Sales – what for? If no goods to flogBusiness support services would dwindleFinance - – a lot of the current financial system is based on betting on firmsTaking this all into account…Production – at home or very local, on demand rather than “push”Transport & Delivery – far less need to move produced goods anywhere, so the huge logistics industry is under pressureConsumers can make stuff very locally, so consumer facing businesses selling goods are under threat. Social technology increasingly looks like it can home create many services. Employees don’t need to commute, don’t need coffees and paninisSales & Marketing – No goods to flog, social advice will expose the best optionsBusiness Support Services – If the main firms dwindle, what happens to all those firms set up to support these firms?Finance – a lot of the current financial system is based on betting on firms, on defraying risks of producing into uncertain demand, of credit against poor paymentIf we could produce everything we needed all manufacturing as we know it would become redundant. What would we still need?Land to live on (but all agricultural land wouldn’t be needed – drought and famine a thing of the past)Physical help with building products we create with our nanofactories
  • Every major technology shift has made huge impacts to the way we live….Cities only created for people to come together to trade goods – workers to live close to factoriesBut it would mean that we may be able to return to a time more reminiscent of the medieval period when we lived in smaller communities – so we’ll still have physical contact. Contact at distance could easily be covered by 3D holography – made possible with nanotechnology. How would we interact with others? Burke believes we will give up living in overpopulated cities as the economies of scale that make these important, will simply disappear – according to him they only grew during the 18th Century so that workers could live close to factories. No more economies of scale. We’d disagree with that to a certain degree – history shows that humans do like to congregate – we are social animals.
  • Burke pushes the boundaries and thinks that there would be no need for governments or nations.Governments are there to protect you and redistribute wealth in society – No need for social institutions as all based on scarcity of things – money, food, medication, property – all produced by ourselves.We’ve spent the last 150,000 talkative years dealing with the problem of scarcity, every institution, every value system, every aspect of our lives has been dictated by the need to share out what there wasn’t enough of for everybody
  • So when I say ‘…… -- social networks would be there to coordinate all the activities businesses USED to do’ – perhaps this thought has become more thinkable than unthinkable in the last 5 minutes!On that note let’s get down to some serious real world social business and hand over to ourillustrious panel… starting with Will McInnes of Nixon McInnes…. Why would we work? What would be the point of creating a business as we know it if everyone had everything they needed? We would still need help with basic things though – like helpingbuild the products that we make (like parts of a house or a car). We would need help from each other – we are social animals and enjoy sharing experiences and generally helping each other. Are we really talking about a system based on social objects? *Social objects are objects around which social networks form. Parties, places, people etc. *social capital is the expected collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups.We already have a glimpse of how technologies have shifted our lifestyle from having to work in an office to being able to work from home… but to not have to work at all? It needs a strong imagination…
  • Social Business - The Patchwork Elephant 02 - think forward 40 years - Janet Parkinson

    1. 1. The Overton Window
    2. 2. The Future Could business become a social object?
    3. 3. “Nanotechnology will destroy the present social and economic system – because it will become pointless” James Burke Radio 4 PM, August 2013
    4. 4. James Burke – guru, sage, seer
    5. 5. Burke’s predictions included… • Storage of personal information in databanks would be accepted – at least by the young • People would realise that the sharing of information would help organise society better • Computer aided learning systems would provide children with their own plug in super teacher • 300,000 computer terminals would be in use by the year 2000 providing forecasts on the effects of management decision making
    6. 6. “Nanotechnology will destroy the present social and economic system – because it will become pointless” James Burke Radio 4 PM, August 2014
    7. 7. The Personal Nanofactory
    8. 8. It’s already started…
    9. 9. Radical Abundance – the Endgame?
    10. 10. The Domino Effect
    11. 11. Cities? Why bother?
    12. 12. Governments? What for?
    13. 13. The Future Will business become a social object?