Social Business in Silicon Valley #1
I arrived in San Francisco a few weeks ago. Some conferences and meetings helped me understand better some business trends and behaviours I would like to share.
An impressive level of knowledge about “social”
Of course mostly everyone here has heard about Yammer’s acquisition by Microsoft or knows what “Chatter” is (Salesforce.com is one of the main employers in Downtown San Francisco). When you ask someone who do not work on that field what a “social business” or an “enterprise 2.0” is, the definition they give is really quite correct (You may have asked this question in France : these words don’t really make sense for most of the people, so you need to spend at least 30 seconds before your interlocutor understands what you mean). Thereby, I would say the level of knowledge about the use of social tools for business is really higher than in Europe.
Some social collaboration softwares are famous because their headquarters are based a few miles away. However, many people admit that “these tools don’t work”. Concretely, people from large organizations as CBS or RSC Pharma told me that maximum 5% of the employees from the entire company daily use this kind of tools.
Even in big companies which sell “collaborative solutions”, some employees who do not work on these projets say they still mainly use emails to communicate (and chat when they need a quick answer). They told me there is not any group or forum related to their projects. They have to find solutions within their own team (about this topic, I advise you to read this post from Jacob Morgan)
The future of work
As you know, some start-ups from Silicon Valley grow really fast and have a big impact on some markets. “Social Business” could become the normal way of doing business thanks to these start-ups, as collaboration exists since the day the company was created. Indeed, I think collaborative dynamics are easier to implement in a small and brand new organization than in a large corporation.
Naval Ravikant is a famous entrepreneur and angel investor. He was the main speaker at an event organized by Pandodaily last week. (He invested in companies such as Twitter, Foursquare, PlanCast, Stack Overflow, Disqus...)
He shared his vision about the future of work. According to him, in the next few years, more and more startups will have a 1 billion dollar valuation. These companies will be only focused on their core business. Peripheral issues as HR, Accounting or even Sales would be outsourced to other start-ups specialised in this activity. Thanks to APIs, all the information sharing would be made easily. Instead of having large organizations made of many departments with low value added and disengaged workers, business will be made by networks of start-ups having customer-supplier partnerships, full of passionate employees. For many tasks, organizations would not need to waste time recruiting people, there would be “an app” able to make the required tasks. Thus, suppliers and customers would be everywhere on Earth.
Coworking spaces and communities
Coworking spaces are popular in The Valley. Whereas often described as a place to share a desk with other individuals, they are always presented here as a community that you could join, which gives you access to several services according to the price you monthly pay. It could include a desk or not. At least, you would have access to the online community platform, where you can ask question to other members about an expertise you would need to achieve your project, find and add events to a “social calendar”... The coworkers’ profiles really matters, as they could add value to the community for you or not, according to your business activities. Here, community and business go hand in hand.
That is it for this first note form the US. If you have already been to The Valley, what astonished you the most?
I will try to share notes frequently about the trends and behaviour I could observe here. For any particular question, feel free to ask!