I believe that once social media penetrates into a corporation it brings with it a whole new culture, a deadly poison. This is the culture of sharing and collaboration, of freedom and autonomy, along with the realization that real value resides within the masses.
Business people are just realizing that in a context where you can gather and organize input from millions of individuals and engage them all in different types of activities it becomes more profitable to open the organization a little, to blur its boundaries. The argument is that if you have the means to engage a large number of individuals there might be a way to extract value from them, but first you need to invite them to your party, so you need to open your door.
Until recently, the prevalent model was that the corporation decides what people want, makes the product and pushes it to the market by manufacturing a desire for it. (Most products are sold based on desire, not on need.) Executives are now realizing that when the consumer is part of the design and the marketing process something magical happens and profits surge. The new technology makes this possible, offering very effective communication and collaboration tools. But to make it work, they need to create a hype around the product, which is now sold as a social cause, a story, an event, and to create a community around it. So the model is shifting, the consumer is part of the design and the marketing campaign, he's part of the process now. There is an open dialog between the corporation and the public, there is some sort of collaboration (implying reciprocity), or at list this is what the corporation wants YOU to believe. They want to make you feel as if you are contributing to something meaningful, because they need your input. They manufacture a community around a product because they want to trap your gregarious instincts with it, in order to get your cooperation to buy the product, to talk about it, and to contribute with new product-ideas. It works to a certain extent... The long-term problem is to maintain voluntary individual cooperation in a situation where the individual has other choices. At some point down the line people are going to wake up and smell the manipulation, especially if they have other points of comparison, other models bases on true reciprocity.
You cannot engage the people in your cause for a long time without making them perceive that they get something back. You cannot make a community without making a community. If you make a party but you keep all the goodies for yourself in a hidden room, sooner or later people will find that out and, because they have the choice, they will simply leave you and go to the another party. All this is based on individual choice and cooperation. People give (time, ideas, etc.) as long as they perceive that they get something back. Not necessarily material benefits, we are dealing with a multi-value system. If your community doesn't feel like one you cannot gain the fool cooperation of your crowd. But this is not the end of the story!
These executives smelled the money and, almost by reflex, they made the move, not realizing that embracing the new social technology, even to the extent they did, is incompatible with their very nature. You cannot be closed hierarchy and an open decentralized community at the same time! By adopting the social media DELL corporation makes the statement that there IS value in the multitude. People know what they need and they have good ideas in terms of design. The interconnected multitude is also good at evaluating the product according to a multi-dimensional set of criteria, taking into consideration functionality, ergonomics, ecology, safety, etc. The corporation engaging the multitude is forced to acknowledge this, it is forced to look into this matter by the success of others. This shift to the social business model is the first act of their demise, initiating a slow and precarious metamorphoses towards purely collaborative systems. Most corporations will not survive this transformation. At this moment, behind the veil of openness there is a lucid and manipulative mind, but after some time working with the social model executives will realize that there is much more value to be extracted from the multitude. They will eventually come to the conclusion that the best way to maintain a high level of individual involvement and cooperation within an open and diffuse organization is to give people a real sense of belonging to a real community. Is to invite creative and hard working individuals from everywhere to join the venture and to extract benefits from their involvement in proportion to their contributions. In other words, whose hierarchies who can survive the metamorphoses will become value networks.
But wait a second, economical entities only act in the direction of increased economical power. Who says that opening even more leads to greater economical power? (Notice that I don't use the word profit, we want to allow other types of economies to emerge.) You find the answer to this question here. See also open value networks.
We are just at the beginning of the business 2.0 phenomena. This technology that we call social is very young still. Corporations have already implemented new methods to improve their products and to boost their sales. Slowly but surely we will see emerging in parallel decentralized organizations of design and production, which will fully embrace the culture of sharing and collaboration, based on new economical principles. These new organizations will be able to enlist vast social forces because they will be able to convey the message to the participating multitude that their output belongs to them! These alternatives, although slow to emerge, will gradually take over the economy. Corporations will go through a metamorphoses to become open and decentralized, most of them will not survive this radical transformation.
Gaurav Mishra, I see you as a powerful and mystical shaman followed by a group of executives, greedy, power hungry, and selfish, all anxiously waiting for their magical potion. Instead you are giving them their poison and rejoice at their insane smile of happiness, not seeing their tragic faith soon to arrive.