A Technology vs. Culture Rorschach Test

August 6, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Posted in Blogs, social software | 1 Comment

Here’s a quick test to see if you are technology focused or business focused.  Read the following paragraph and then select a multiple choice interpretation.

      —————————————

A blogging study published by Brockmann and Company in April, 2009 found that companies with blogs had a higher customer satisfaction than those without (32% vs 25%). They also had much higher employee satisfaction (26% for large companies with blogs, 12% without). 

Question: What does this study show?

A. Installing a blog can raise a company’s customer satisfaction rate and its employee satisfaction rate. 

B. Companies that have higher customer and employee satisfaction rates are more likely to install blogs. 

      —————————————

The point of the exercise is that from my conversations with IT folks (and others enamored with Web 2.0), too many would jump to interpretation A in this case and in the more subtle cases they encounter in their daily work lives. However, the field research we conducted on social networking showed companies with closed cultures that discourage connecting to peers to cross-pollinate ideas (the kind of companies that I don’t think engender high customer or employee satisfaction rates) are indeed less likely to implement social software.

Correlation statistics don’t indicate causation, so there’s no way to tell for sure which answer is correct.  But my instinct says it’s B.  This answer is further indicated by another question on the same survey that found companies with blogs were more green as well (20% for companies with blogs, 9% without).  It seems unlikely installing software makes a company more environmentally aware, so the other direction is the one that makes more sense.

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  1. True to my roots as a scientist, my immediate response was the accurate “insufficient information to tell which interpretation is correct”. Which is more than being pedantic; it is conceivable that blogging, and the openness it indicates, will in fact affect customer and employee attitudes after a while.

    That said, if I had to bet (a non-scientific act) I would agree that B is more likely.

    I do however oppose the somewhat cynical description of blogging as “installing software”. When a company permits its employees to blog externally in its name, a serious culture change (or assertion) is involved. Unless you mean those “blogs” run by marketing departments?


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