Space, time and culture: new opportunities and challenges

Space, time and culture: new opportunities and challenges

In recent years, a growing number of organizations have started to adopt social technologies which are widely used on the Internet to solve their own business challenges. From wikis to Facebook and LinkedIn these technologies help companies achieve several goals. The first one is allowing them to improve the quality and quantity of connections, both inside and outside of the company, thus leading to an increase in social capital which as Francis Fukuyama said has a significant impact on the viability and scale of economic organizations, making them much more competitive in the long term.
14 Jun 2016 1464
In recent years, a growing number of organizations have started to adopt social technologies which are widely used on the Internet to solve their own business challenges. From wikis to Facebook and LinkedIn these technologies help companies achieve several goals. The first one is allowing them to improve the quality and quantity of connections, both inside and outside of the company, thus leading to an increase in social capital which as Francis Fukuyama said has a significant impact on the viability and scale of economic organizations, making them much more competitive in the long term.

Another benefit (or goal) of these technologies is that it helps companies overcome the challenges associated with virtual (distributed) teams, namely issues regarding time intervals and geographical locations. These obstacles can seriously hamper communication, complicating any formation of informal contacts between staff, which in ordinary teams takes place through face to face communication. This can be solved in part through the use of traditional tools for communication, such as e-mail or telephone conferences. But new tools such as social networks, wiki, blogs and microblogs provide expanded opportunities for the accumulation of social capital in the organization.

However by starting to use new technologies and becoming more open to the outside world companies are also discovering new threats to their security. Internet scammers and hackers are always looking for ways to steal precious data and information from companies. There have been a lot of instances where well known social networks were subject to virus attacks which infected computers and turned them into botnets. As a result there has been increased scrutiny and efforts on behalf or organizations who want to make sure that they have as smaller number of vulnerabilities as possible.

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But less attention is paid to the fact that social technologies are helping not only scammers and hackers, but also people within the organization who are ready to use manipulative techniques to solve their problems. Although these types of people seldom generate security issues their impact is often just as serious, but only within the organization. Manipulation destroys trust which is the cornerstone of any effective interaction. Only when there is mutual trust do people solve problems quickly and effectively, despite bureaucracy and other internal formalities. When there is trust will people share information.

Feelings, emotions, stereotypes and automatisms play an important part in the way we interact with each other but they can also be used against us. Communication barriers between distributed teams can also be seen as a weakness and can be taken advantage of. Typically, there are three main barriers which are vulnerable to the behavior I described above: the distance between people, a large time difference and cultural differences. Each of them can be used for manipulation. Moreover, any communication tool, whether it is video conferencing, chat, or the wiki can be used to manipulate.

In the next article we will look at how to prevent such issues.

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