Now that’s seems a little harsh to the IT world. Unless Gartner is just trying to be controversial or come up with an angle that will attract attention to their upcoming conference, IT managers are being unfairly blamed.
I would place the blame for failed social software projects squarely on the shoulders of the business unit managers and senior executives responsible for overall corporate strategy. These executives are the ones who ultimately control the destiny of social media ‘experiments’ and it is critical that they understand and embrace social media or it will not be successful. While the IT guys are just following orders, they do need to have confidence to raise the red flags when they see any IT projects that are not properly supported or have strategies that are not clear.
Anthony Bradley, managing vp at Gartner goes on to say in the release that:
Contrary to the common perception that vibrant communities arise spontaneously, starting with a carefully chosen purpose does not limit participants. It gives them the direction they need to form a productive community.
I do agree with Gartner’s assertion that users need a “well-defined purpose of appropriate scope” to mobilize around for any community effort (although their verbiage and word choice is a little stilted).
Gartner also defined seven characteristics of a “good purpose” which seems to me like a poorly organized list of descriptives and phrases:
- Low risk
- Properly scoped
- Facilitates evolution
In any case, Gartner fails to mention the most obvious reason for social software failures. In my mind, strong community strategy and management is key to any successful community. In fact, I wrote a blog post on this topic recently (“Community Managers and Quarterbacks“). In short:
- good (and passionate, committed) community managers –> thriving community
- bad or non-existent community managers –> stagnant or dying community.
Of course, we may need to take Gartner’s social media advice with a grain of salt. I don’t know much about Anthony Bradley and couldn’t locate much about him in a Google or Twitter search. Personally, I don’t trust anyone in social media who doesn’t twitter and who has been actively blogging for less than a year.
Does anyone have any additional comments?