Great Debate: Social enterprise - Fact or fiction? Live next Tuesday, Feb. 28th at 2pm ET

Dennis Howlett and I finally get our 'cage match' on social business. We will debate whether or not the social enterprise is fact or fiction next Tuesday at 2pm ET. We'll both bring our best arguments and when the dust settles, we'll all collectively be smarter on this topic du jour.
Written by Dion Hinchcliffe, Contributor

A full-on debate was bound to happen sooner or later. Those who read this blog know that I am generally quite bullish on the potential of social technology to significantly -- even dramatically in some cases -- improve the way we live and particularly how we work. But there are plenty who are still skeptical, despite a growing number of success stories, and dismiss the notion that enterprises are being changed for the better in any significant way by social media.

Those on the skeptic side include long-time fellow ZDNet blogger Dennis Howlett who once famously referred to Enterprise 2.0 as "a crock". While I tend to disagree with Dennis on a number of things, I don't dispute that the case may not be as cut and dried as those most optimistic about social business would perhaps like.

It now appears Dennis and I will finally get to work through this topic in a live one-on-one debate.

However, do I really think the social enterprise -- a notion that Marc Benioff and others have been making an impassioned and increasingly effective case for -- is actually fiction? Hardly. The evidence at this point is essentially overwhelming that organizations by the millions are using social tools successfully within, across, and outside their boundaries. See here for my latest synthesis of available social business adoption statistics.

Fortunately, I believe vigorous debate over misunderstood or poorly understood topics in particular is healthy. Many organizations struggle with the same questions that will almost certainly be asked next Tuesday, including how much focus they should put into becoming a social enterprise? Where are actual the benefits of social coming from? Can the average company make the transition, or is it just tech-centric or top performing organizations? Therefore I've accepted the invitation for this debate in the full spirit of inquiry and to get the hard questions on the table out there and answered.

Related: Social enterprise: fact or fiction? by Dennis Howlett

I'm sure Dennis will provide many useful counter-examples and stimulating critiques but I think the record will ultimately show that the social enterprise, while not necessarily here for everyone today, is something that's started to happen broadly in many organizations. One of the biggest questions I hear these days-- namely, whether the social enterprise directly translates into tangible business value -- will no doubt feature prominently.

Our opening statements will be posted on this topic's Great Debate page at 10am on Monday. The live debate itself will take place on Tuesday afternoon, with closing statements after the debate at 10am Thursday. You will help determine the outcome: Audience members can vote on the premise and the effectiveness of the arguments. I'm truly hoping this debate will illuminate and educate those grappling with the many interesting and challenging issues surrounding social media in the enterprise. See you there!

Please join myself and fellow ZDNet blogger Dennis Howlett next Tuesday at 2pm ET for a live debate on the topic of enterprise social media.

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