Best Argument: Real
Success is the evidence
I believe that yesterday's Great Debate on the social enterprise clearly demonstrated several key points.
1. There are numerous success stories and clear evidence -- please see my ZDNet blog http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hinchcliffe over the years for hard data from many sources -- today that social media is being used extensively both internally and externally in enterprises. There are also those that refuse to acknowledge the enormous progress that's been made. My point that millions of businesses are currently using social media across the full spectrum of success is the take-away here.
2. Most of us readily appreciate point #1: The live voting feature of this Great Debate is certainly unscientific but it puts my argument squarely in the Fact column. The comments further confirm this point.
That's not to say I don't think this topic is worthy of further debate and discussion. This always shines much needed light on what we can do to improve our work. I look forward to another debate with Dennis in a more interactive venue.
Mere marketing fodder
Those who support the social enterprise as real have many problems to overcome in order to convince. Much as I respect Dion's practical application, he wasn't able to bring a demonstrable fact to the table. His blog cites examples for sure but even there it is easy to poke holes in the arguments as either 'early,' 'nascent' or 'failed.'
A fundamental difficulty comes in thinking of 'social' as being defined in the context of operational silos. I didn't hear anything in Dion's argument that adequately addressed this problem. Instead I saw two distinct arguments (internal/external) that serve to reinforce silos, which in turn goes right against the notion of flattened organisations.
Similarly, I didn't hear anything that persuades me this is little more than good marketing fodder for those who class themselves as social gurus, experts and consultants. In some cases, it is clear that Dion has swallowed what he has been told without questioning the veracity of the information provided.
In short I heard nothing new that persuades me we are at a place where social is correctly addressing the problems enterprises face in a manner that is transformational. It is when social acts as a transformational rather than emerging phenomenon that enterprise benefits in a sustainable manner. That has not been convincingly proven except via ad hoc projects and anecdotal statements. Regardless how 'good' social might appear, the C-Suite needs rather more than that.
The risk of inaction
I've never judged a Great Debate that was harder to call than this one, probably because the two sides are so far apart and I don't think either has the whole issue totally nailed. But both perspectives provide a lot of value that can help people make good decisions about the social enterprise.
Dion did a good job of summing up a lot of the conventional wisdom about the social enterprise, while Dennis gave us the solid business-focused angle that constantly reminds us not to get too caught up in the latest trends or waste resources chasing things that have dubious value.
In the end, I'm going to give the nod to Dion because the risk of inaction in this case is that your competitors could become faster than you and better connected to customers. But, I'd encourage everyone to heed the warnings from Dennis and be wise and disciplined about social.