In many ways, Government is as skilled or even leading private industry in applying social technologies to transform itself.
Government already makes heavy use of social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook to communicate with constituents and is pushing into new spaces with efforts to better communicate during emergencies or to facilitate reporting of repairs.
Agencies, such as the GSA, are applying social technologies internally to streamline processes and are grappling with highly mobile work forces where up to 50% of the work force is working remotely on a given day. (see quotes from Martha Johnson, GSA Administrator in the GovLoop blog The Dog That Caught The Bus)
But all is not utopia with social technologies, at least not yet.
The W3C Standards Organization reports that more than 50% of social technology users, including many government employees, still have doubts about the effectiveness and value of the technology to their productivity at work. Why is this ?
A frequent complaint is that social technologies require workers to stop what they are currently doing, leave an application, and click to a different application to interact. The technology provides yet another way to be interrupted.
Another challenge is context around the message. Dannielle Blumenthal, in her recent blog post on GovLoop titled “Why Government Should Focus More on Content Sharing & Less on Social Media ” points out that social media tools can’t supply the appropriate context as she states that “government is high-context”.
Another challenge is that needed data may be in legacy applications and not available in ways easily consumed by social technologies.
The W3C Standards Organization, at an upcoming, online event hopes to discuss these and many other topics around social government, social business and social technologies. The event includes leaders from government and business as they discuss questions about where social technology needs to go next.
Two of the speakers for this online conference are Steve Ressler, founder and president of GovLoop, and Kevin Hauswirth, Director of Social Media for the Mayor’s Office in the City Of Chicago. Both Steve and Kevin, at different times, will be leading online discussions about how social technologies enhance, compliment, and often change existing processes.
The compelling aspect about the format of this online exchange is not only that it is free, but that it is a chance to interact with experts in the field directly. Participants have the opportunity to interact with the special guests and peers during the event by asking questions and raising challenges in an online discussion format that transcends schedules and world time zones.
This seems like a great opportunity to collectively explore social technologies and how they can be applied to improve the functions of government. The W3C event is free and the six topics described on the Jam information site are relevant to anyone attempting to move beyond just social media.
If you are interested in the discussion, check out the Jam information page that also contains links to register: (http://www.w3.org/2011/socialbusiness-jam/)