Firstly, if you aren’t looking at the Back2ITSM group on facebook then you are missing out - go sign up, now! Let me explain what it is and how it is brand new and full of ITSM tradition at the same time.
Secondly, it is about people talking with each other. That’s the bit that is the same as it’s always been. The willingness to share ideas, help others – even those in competing organisations – is just exactly like many itSMF regional meetings I have been to, in UK, Canada and New Zealand; except that now we are all in three at the same time.
Of course, social media isn’t new, and facebook is not the newest kid in town. But what is 21st century about this kind of group are the immediacy of comment and dialogue and the wide spectrum of simultaneous participants it allows. Since it has active members from all across the world, there is constant input and comment.
OK, so we have all know that the technology for this has been around a while. After all it is ‘just’ about real time input to a forum – and we now have about 20 or 30 people across the world presenting their opinions to an audience of 500+ (lurking is positively encouraged). For me what is important is precisely that I am not aware of the clever technology or feel all the time that I am using a novel means of communicating or even just how damned clever the whole thing is. With this group I have reached stage three in my own ‘using technology’ scale: comfort and taking for granted.
Stage 1 is when you are using some new way of doing things just because you can. This isn’t just about IT of course, many of us may recall how such things have affected our choice of travel (my
example is choosing an airline because they had A380s on the route, and even if a bit dearer I had never been on one of them before …).
Stage 2 is when the mean is no longer overwhelming the ends – you’re using it now because it is logical to do so, and it is delivering value. But, you are still very aware of how cool it is. And you probably keep telling other people how cool it is too.
Stage 3 is when your focus is totally on what you are doing. I can now just read what is written, comment if I have something to say. You know it’s a normal conversation because it goes off at tangents, people get flippant, say daft things, agree, argue, make subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) digs at each and launch jokes that no-one else notices. In short, it’s normal human conversation, without thinking about how you are achieving it nor where all the people are, or what time it is there.
And to me this is a good motif for successful technology. It isn’t when it is there and running that the implementation part is properly over. Real success is when people don’t notice it any more, but just get on with using it, unconsciously – as part of their everyday lives.
It’s one more example of how success is about being invisible. First time I flew in an A380 I was excited about it – last time I was watching a movie before we reached the runway. That’s success. (Ok, so there was a little re-attention on the technology after the Qantas 380 had an engine explode but I am back to ignoring it again now.)
So the important lesson and message that I see is how we need a customer perspective on the introduction of new technology. And maybe what you actually want is people to stop telling you how impressed they are, because then they are getting on with using it, which was, after all, the real point of the exercise, wasn’t it?