12: The Future of Managing Social Tech

One of the key duties of a manager is to guide your subordinates toward a future vision of success. In a changing environment, merely continuing to execute on the current plan is not going to suffice. You will need to predict what is coming and prepare for it.

For social media, this entails a great deal more risk: new tools are constantly emerging, and it's difficult to tell which are just hype and which have staying power, meaning you will be investing time and budget in things that won't last.

For the same reason, flexibility is important. You can put together a five-year plan, but there's little chance of actually executing on it, but will be more likely to adjust and change. No advice from the author on a planning horizon, just the indication you must "carefully consider" how far to look ahead.

Making Good Decisions Today

Tactical decisions should begin with recognizing the social tools that are currently mainstream, and assessing which tools will also become mainstream in the next few years. Recall that the network is more important than the features of a given tool, so swimming against the current to cling to a feature-set is inadvisable. The author suggests looking to younger employees, those 25 and younger, and the tools that they are using or experimenting with: they are likely ahead of the curve insofar as knowing what will be the next phenomenon.

The approach of following popular trends should not be taken to extremes. You will need to familiarize yourself with the technology so that you can assess whether a popular tool has a business application that holds potential value to the organization. Also consider longevity - whether a tool seems to have staying power, or whether it is a fad that will pass quickly.

How Embracing Social Tech Can Lift Your Career

Becoming an evangelist and though-leader for social tools will also help you move forward in your career: you will be seen as a strategic thinker who delivers real value to your firm, and such individuals are valued. The alternatives, going along with others' ideas or merely being a naysayer, makes you a follower or a liability rather than an asset. At the same time , if you go too far and insist on the adoption of every bleeding-edge tool that comes along, you will be seen as reckless.

Even in a firm that takes a reluctant or resistant position toward social media, being literate in the technology and using it personally gives you exposure outside your present firm - potentially to a forward-thinking firm that has an eye to recruit people with social-medial skills.

The author bullets some specific benefits for the individual:

Another bulleted list of benefits for the team:

What Are the Next Big Things in Social Tech?

The author suggests that we can extrapolate from current technologies to determine what is likely to be coming up in social media. Granted, there's always the chance something will pop up unexpectedly, but in many instances, you can see things coming a year or so in advance. Given the present landscape, the author suggests a number of trends (EN: And I couldn't help weighing in on each, as his vision is a bit too rosy and aggressive from what I've seen ... it could be interesting to check back in a couple years, maybe in 2014, and see which of us was right.)

While social technology has progressed over the past decade, the author feels we are still in the early days - there's a lot of potential for innovation and discovery that will change the landscape as we move forward and it gains maturity.

As such, this is an exciting moment in history, rife with opportunities for the manager who will seize them before others do and carve out a niche for themselves before the landscape stabilizes and the prime real estate has been claimed.