Distrust and its potential effect on Cloud & social

It has been a while since I blogged. And frankly, not just blogging has been a bit on the low side, all my social media presence has. It’s due to all that is been going on in the last few months in the world and that has me and I guess many others too reeling and trying to make sense of it all.

My work is in Social enterprise and collaboration. It’s about enterprise social, about cloud, about big data and most importantly about getting people to open up across organizational, across regional and across cultural divides to work together, to learn, to share and to participate as valued partners in their organizations so that they can help drive productivity and innovation. On top of that I work for a German/Austrian company with coworkers all across the globe. All things that are only possible because of the global access to the things we find so normal today. Like high speed access to the internet, the devises and technological advances that allow us to be always connected wherever we are and whenever we want and most importantly because of a highly globalized world that trades and interacts with each other in an open and connected way. We don’t find it weird anymore to collaborate with coworkers, partners or colleagues across the world and as an employee we play a much bigger role within our corporate environments…. but is it really as successful as we think it is…..?

Faith in system

source – Edelman Trust Barometer report

It’s all down to trust

Is all this globalization really working and are we finding the benefits of it or have we moved so fast that we’ve lost track of the people side in all this. Because let’s face it, what it all comes down to and what all this is based on is: trust. Trust in each other, trust in the people we work with, the companies that we work for, the companies that control our cloud data and ultimately the governments that govern those companies. And do we really trust all these?

That’s the question I’ve been struggling with and it seems I’m not alone. The Edelman trust Barometer is a global research study by a marketing & PR firm that is done annually in 28 countries and looks at the way we trust our NGO’s, our governments, our businesses and our media. Their assessment: Trust is in a crisis. And globalization is one of the biggest fears.edelman2

source – Edelman Trust Barometer report

 For the first time ever more people distrust than trust these institutions and especially government & media are experiencing an all time low. And one of the biggest fears, right after corruption, is: globalization.

“50% of those interviewed believe globalization is taking us in the wrong direction” - Edelman report

So what does that mean?

Frankly…. I don’t know. If we stop trusting in each other and in the organizations (business) and control mechanisms (government & media) that make global collaboration possible & accountable and start isolating and protecting ourselves against “the big bad world” outside then what will that mean for things like cloud computing and Social Enterprise Networking that depend on a networked and global landscape? Will we go back to more on premises computing and stop initiatives to tie our collaborative eco-systems of interconnected partnerships with suppliers, partners and customers together or could in fact business be a driver to start gaining back some of that trust?

The Edelman report raises an interesting thought. They state that 1/3 of the interviewed people is unsure whether the “system is failing” or the “system is working” and that out of the 4 institutions (NGO’s, business, government and media) its surprisingly ‘business’ that still holds the biggest trust for this group. It suggests that business could play a big role in turning the tide on the global Trust crisis we are in and it also highlights how the role of the EMPLOYEE is most important in that. As it is not the CEO, senior executive of media spoke person who is most trusted to give honest and credible information on various topics but the employee.

edelman3

source – Edelman Trust Barometer report

Now what….

And that’s where I start getting back a glimmer of hope. Because in order to win back that trust Edelman states that companies can – and should – take a role of leadership. Centering around respect, education, openness towards and emancipation of the employee. All factors in which social enterprise networking can play a big role but also factors in which it will be even more important for organizations to take a lead.

However the time of assumptions of “bring it and they will come” and bottom-up initiatives is over, organizations will need to show leadership and commitment to the changes and the initiatives they deploy, lead by example and put their people at the center of whatever they do as it will be them that will be the trusted source for information about how well they are doing but it’s also this group that is currently in a position of distrust. So let’s take this on and demonstrate to the world that working together is still better than retreating back into our own little bubbles. We momentarily halted because we got afraid, now let’s get over it and continue building our future instead of sidetracking into building walls.

One comment

  1. elsua

    Hi Femke, this is just such a wonderful blog post and for so many good reasons! Thanks a lot for putting it together and for sharing it out there. It’s one of those articles that, if anything, pretty much confirms that technology alone is not going to save us, just like that. The technology fetish we have been having over the course of the last 50 years is running very low as we are, finally, understanding that technology, without a sociology focus, is not going anywhere.

    In fact, I’d state technology without sociology is not going to help us transform the way we work behind and outside of the firewall, at all, and as wonderful as all of these digital / social tools are, unless we make it tick focusing on the employees themselves and how we can improve their overall experience through the usual mastery, purpose and recognition we aren’t going to make much progress, as you have shown us well in this blog post.

    Trust is not a minor issue, it’s *the* biggest we ever faced, and still do, and will continue to do. And if there is anything we have learned about these social tools behind the firewall is that in order for us to trust our colleagues we first need to know them, what they think, what they do, what they are good, what worries them, what excites them, and only then we would have the opportunity to focus on building, nurturing and sustaining those personal business relationships where magic happens: people trusting people.

    It’s a bit ironic that we need to rely on digital tools nowadays to help us achieve something we used to be good at a long time ago: knowing people, so you can trust them to do business together. It’s one of the things that still excites me the most about digital transformation initiatives, even today, after 20 years in this collaboration space, and that is that technology alone is not going to save us, but people themselves (sociology) with technology as an enabler eventually turning into people-centric organisations versus whatever other constructs we may have built so far.

    Thanks much, once again, Femke, for the stupendous blog post! There’s a lot of work to be done still and that’s exciting, too! Let’s get down to it!

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