Yesterday I chaired a discussion on the future of business ecosystems at the SOMESSO/ Headshift Social Media Summit in London.

The summit had a brave, experimental format. The day kicked off with just two slide-free keynotes (Jeff Dachis and JP Rangaswami) – intended to inspire and set the scene.

Social business

After a quick cup of coffee, the 100 or so delegates split into three streams or discussion groups: internal, external and “ecosystem”. The idea was to discuss, analyse and build upon a handful of social business case studies. The case studies represented breakthroughs in either internal communications, external communications/ marketing or a hybrid of both (ie: ecosystem).

Sounds simple enough, right? Heh. That’s before you start deconstructing.

I was excited about the ecosystem concept because I talk about it a lot in Monkeys with Typewriters, exploring what happens when you compare the business world to a biological ecosystem. (This was illustrated far more expertly by Marco Iansiti and Roy Levien in The Keystone Advantage.)


Needless to say, “ecosystem” turned out to be a rather troublesome, hard-to-define and contentious heading. As the third and most “hybrid” of the three streams it was inferred that we should come up with approaches which integrated internal and external comms in some way, however the end result was more “other”.

While some of our group preferred to look at ecosystem in terms of supply chain, others wanted to focus on social entrepreneurship and environmental impact. Then there was me, stuck with the image of some kind of galactic aquarium.

I’ll post a fuller summary of our discussion, with key points, over on the [longer format] iKnowHow blog next week.

How social tech maximises the workforce at IBM

Photo credit: Carol Sawada

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