SAN FRANCISCO---Technology alone is no longer the competitive advantage it used to be, according to Yammer co-founder and chief technology officer Adam Pisoni.
Speaking at the Microsoft subsidiary's Working Social Tour summit on Tuesday afternoon, Pisoni lectured about the problems plaguing businesses across all industries as their customers outpace them technologically, warning against the dangers of not understanding mobile and social trends in particular.
"The world has become a giant network, but companies are still rigid hierarchies," Pisoni reflected, suggesting this answers a key mystery about what has suddenly increased the pace of change: the speed of information itself.
However, Pisoni continued, companies were not built for change and haven't really evolved since the Industrial Revolution.
"The world in which those companies were built was a world where most of the work was routine," Pisoni said. He cited Gartner research depicting that "non-routine" work didn't really make a noticeable jump since 1900 until 2010, climbing 25 percent during that time. But it's projected to increase to 40 percent as soon as 2015.
Companies weren't built to share either, Pisoni lamented, pointing toward what could be at the core of what is wrong with stagnating businesses today.
There is some good news, Pisoni noted, reassuring that all companies are facing the same challenges today.
Basically, his advice was that companies that will have the competitive advantage will be the ones that learn and respond rapidly via two-way communication channels, don't shy away from experimentation, and work together as a network.
That network, Pisoni specified, needs to be comprised of not just employees but also customers and industry partners. He added that front-line employees typically have the best information and should be included in more of the decision-making.
Falling along the lines of this strategy, Yammer chief product officer Pavan Tapadia introduced a number of updates to Yammer's enterprise social network rolling out soon.
Much of the refresh revolves around more software integrations for fostering collaboration, including the new ability to particpate in Yammer conversations via e-mail -- even without a Yammer account.
Switching from a rather doom-and-gloom history lesson to a more positive outlook, Pisoni concluded that these challenges represent "enormous opportunities to capitalize on these changes," continuing on that we're at a unique moment in history where even small investments can result in huge returns.