It seems that since the dawn of the industrial age, enterprise business models have been the textbook case study of an oligarchy if not an outright dictatorship. Which is to say that large groups of people are held to the standards, demands and of course whims of a small group of senior and middle management executives. That is until now. Today, cloud-based computing is flattening organizations faster than you can even look up the definition of oligarchy on dictionary.com.
When I first started out as a wide-eyed idealist with a new computer science degree back in the early 1980’s I thought I could help change the world. Then I discovered the joys of hierarchical organizations and the political filters that impede innovation for the sake of career advancement or protection. It took only a couple of bold (successful) risk to advance from specialist to manager to director to VP to CMO and discover that the oligarchy sword actually cuts both ways because there was no real way to aggregate the information and idea flow from below matched with the budget, economic, competitive and strategic realities from above.
But the world of 2014 is a far cry from 1980 and the proliferation of cloud-based applications has done more to flatten organizations and their ability to innovate then every other automation in the last 120 years combined. A recent article on CNN Money by Aaron Levie titled “What is making enterprise innovation possible” starts out with the quote:
“Box.net CEO Aaron Levie argues that the reign of the enterprise oligarchy is coming to an end — thanks to the democratic nature of the cloud.”
And another article in the Harvard Business Review by Michael Schrage titled “The real power of enterprise social media platforms” had this to say:
“Initiators and intrapreneurs aren’t just using social media to make their efforts more transparent and accessible, they’re using these platforms to improvise and organize new ways to get the job done. They’re using these tool and technologies to add value to existing processes or, indeed, to create new “just-in-time” processes (and programs) that the C-suite and other senior managers had never envisioned. Social media inside the enterprise and out lower the costs and increase the power of individuals to productively coalesce and coordinate on their own initiative.”
Bottom-line: Now is the time to start using enterprise social media to source, solve and potentially even fund your next innovations or initiatives or some other organization will be occupying your market position sooner than you expect.