June 7- 11 I had the good fortune of taking a deeper dive into social network analysis (SNA) at the University of Kentucky's Links Center Summer Workshop.
My SNA interest dates to joining Patti Anklam's "Emergent Learning Network" in 2003, inserting, with help from Rob Cross, an influence question in the Online Communities in Business 2004 Study (co-authored with Joe Cothrel). Patti Anklam also contributed a before and after network analysis of participants in the Facebook Groups in Business Investigation 2008.) It's my firm belief that a "Network Mindset", reflecting the computer networks that drive 21st century business, is critical to individual and organizational effectiveness in a connected world.
1. Graph Theory & Matrix Algebra are SNA Foundations
Monday's excellent "Elementary Graph Theory & Matrix Algebra" class addressed my question about what lies behind commonly derived network analysis measures such as distance, centrality and betweenness. The session also gave me deep appreciation for the importance of math and analytical talents in SNA.
2. SNA is Alive and Well in Academic Research
The LINKS Workshop serves primarily doctoral students. (That University of Chicago Professor Ron Burt (of "Structural Holes" fame) had 700 applications for two PhD candidate slots points to the level of SNA interest.) Worlshop attendees came from Canada, England, France, Italy and Sweden as well as across the U.S. The array of SNA applications represented is attention getting from understanding all dimensions of how teams operate in business through developing more effective water policy and improving health care service effectiveness. Specialist sessions Friday addressed the growing use of SNA in health and defense.
3. Business Use of SNA Concealed and Public
Gartner's December 2009 Press Release "Social Network Analysis Can Help Enterprises Achieve a Pattern–Based Strategy™ that Leverages Relationship Information" describes potential applications of SNA in business that have evolved from the work of pioneers including Steve Borgatti, Ron Burt, Rob Cross, Mark Granovetter, David Krackhardt and Valdis Krebs.
SNA also featured in Gartner's Five Social Software Predictions for 2010 and Beyond predicting:
"Through 2015, only 25 percent of enterprises will routinely utilize social network analysis to improve performance and productivity."
and pointing to the "why":
"when surveys are used for data collection, users may be reluctant to provide accurate responses. When automated tools perform the analysis, users may resent knowing that software is analyzing their behavior. For these reasons, social network analysis will remain an untapped source of insight in most organizations."It's my sense that leading consulting firms from Booz Allen to Boston Consulting and McKinsey are using social network analysis in enterprises and government applications but projects are being kept close for the reasons Gartner cited. Hence we don't have a good measure of adoption.
4. SNA Embedded in Enterprise Platforms
I'm headed to Enterprise 2.0 Boston Tuesday June 15 to see what's new and especially if and how SNA is being embedded in enterprise platforms. IBM showed the way with their Atlas for Lotus Connections but are other vendors following? Will such tools be adopted?
What's your sense of the value of SNA?
Have you led or been a participant in a project?
What is your reaction to having your network visualized in enterprise collaboration platforms?
Please share your experience and observations.
~ Jenny Ambrozek