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I rarely find any particularly startling news in my morning Houston Chronicle; I enjoy the op-ed pages, and it’s something to do while that first cup of coffee kicks in and the dogs finish their breakfast. So the headline I spotted deep in the business section, “Study finds social sites help energy sector”, came as a pleasantly surprising eye-opener this morning. The SAP Communities have embraced social media technologies, but I have wondered when executives in the majority of organizations in traditional industries such as energy were going to realize the value proposition and make adoption of such technologies a strategic priority.

 

The survey’s finding that only 1/3 of their respondents believe that their companies are prepared to take advantage of social networking technologies was not a surprise to me. Just based on my anecdotal experience, the embrace of such technologies seems slow when so many of my colleagues around the SAP ecosystem are blocked from using wikis or listening to informative podcasts.

 

However, just think about the headcount reductions of recent months, both in the energy industry and other sectors. How many thousands of years of accumulated organizational and technical knowledge has already walked out of your organization’s doors? With each successive reduction in force, it becomes more likely that a person being let go was the last one who knew how to do something, or why it was being done that way. Cross training sounds like a solution, but who has time for cross-training, when it is all you can do to keep up with your job and the two others you inherited at the last staffing reduction?

 

Look around your cubicle farm: how many formerly occupied cubicles do you see, and how many are occupied with Baby Boomers who may be considering taking an early retirement package should one be offered? I am hopeful that those in attendance at the Microsoft Global Energy Forum in Houston, as well as those not in attendance who may read about it later, get the message that, especially now in the days of reduced resources, information sharing through social networking technologies can make the remaining resources more effective and efficient.

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