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Businesses, large and small, are finding ways to involve employees, customers, and partners in shared, online, collaborative activities that perform distinct business functions. Such social computing methods replace pure computer hardware–based methods for analyzing complex information and supporting decision-making processes. These methods guide a diverse group of participants to focus on tasks that take advantage of the experience, expertise, and subjective analysis skills that they bring to the group. They can apply to a wide range of business areas and industries by providing collective effort and wisdom to support the underlying decision-making steps in these processes.

Achieving results from social computing involves looking beyond simply gathering a group of people together online. With the high-powered support available, it can be relatively easy to bring people to the stage. The challenge lies in getting a widely diverse group to contribute to the actual performance of social computing. This takes a coherent effort to create a defined context for the social computing activity, generate an enablement plan to guide it, and establish a measurement approach to show how both the participants and the organization benefit.

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