Social Media and the theories of Distributed Cognition

We see a direct connection between what is going on in social media and many of the communication models that have been described within the Distributed Cognition framework (see, for example on the research by team at UCSD, James Hollan, Edwin Hutchins, and David Kirsch:

We have often though that if the “system” could help to identify various human expertise within an organization and present a shared knowledge across the distributed network, the productivity of the entire organization would dramatically increase.

Treating memory as a socially distributed cognitive function is no longer a theoretical construct but is completely possible using commercial software that is available today. Here is one example: By taking advantage of a combination of several COTS programs a large customer service organization can tackle one of their most significant challenges: Task Assignment. Any call center or CMS system needs to quickly assign the right task to the right person, and get them the information that they need in order to revolve the particular customer issue. Several years ago, we were working on initial designs for a system that did automated task assignment for a Business Process Management (BPM) system based upon the employee demographics contained within an LDAP system. This system is available today.

A logical next step would be adding to this LDAP based system by connecting it to an Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) platform (such as Yammer, Jive, VOX, Teligent and others) and a real-time complex event processing (CEP) system. By doing this an organization could exploit user created and automatically generated attributes, add them to their HR database, and be able to better identify human expertise within their company. The task assignment system would use stored and real-time information to determine who is available that can best solve the customer support issue even across a large distributed global network.

This is only one of the potential applications of how social media can effective in the enterprise. With a theoretical understanding of how people communicate and share information across “real-world” social networks, and an understanding of social media, distributed computing , and real-time event processing, we are certain that Enterprise Social Networks can be designed and used to help large organizations solve many other complex business problems, increase productivity and reduce costs.

There is typically a 10 to 100 times return on investment (ROI) on resources spent on Usability and User-Centered Design. We are here to help your organization become as successful as possible. Take advantage of this ROI by contacting The Usability People today.

The Usability People have a deep understanding of ESN's and how a variety of users might interact with such systems. Creating a useful, effective and satisfying experience is the cornerstone of what we do. Contact Us for more information or a free consultation.