In this session from Techonomy 2011, in Tuscon, Ariz., Daniel Debow, co-founder and co-CEO of Rypple, explains to Techonomy’s Adam Ludwig how companies should be strategic in the way they use the existing value structure of enterprise social networks—and argues that the output of these networks is measurable. Also appearing in this video: Kendall Collins of Salesforce Chatter, Citi’s Deborah Hopkins, and Techonomy’s Adam Ludwig.

Ludwig: Just to jump in and play the devil’s advocate on some of these points. We all know that people use Facebook as a performance platform. People project a persona onto Facebook and they achieve a certain status on Facebook based on what appears on Facebook. What is the risk of the same phenomenon happening with enterprise social media? In other words, you get all these people who appear to be incredibly innovative and productive on this particular platform, projected in this particular way—are there ways of actually measuring the efficiencies that are being created? Because all of this stuff conceptually makes so much sense, it makes corporations that use these tools sound like they can become these very ideal work places, where everyone is being productive and being encouraged, and all the best workers are rising to the top. But are they only rising to the top on this platform, or are you able to measure what the impact is in terms of real productivity?
Debow: So three responses: first is, what’s new about that? I mean it’s not like people didn’t not show up at work and play games at work, and it’s not like people don’t project their image at work—you know, dress for success. Why do people walk around in ties?  Like a tie is a totally nonfunctional piece of clothing.  It’s entirely symbolic. They’re just trying to convey meaning. So I think that already happens at work.
The second point is, yes, we’re just at the beginning of this, but we’re already starting to plug Rypple into all the web-based/cloud-based systems where people do work. I mean it’s actually kind of astonishing. Every existing HCM software—and I’m focused, because that’s our place of focus—but none of them integrate with where people actually do work. Isn’t that crazy that you don’t tie the performance system into like your customer support system, your engineering system, your CRM system? Nope, that data is not really relevant. That’s crazy. And that’s changing. I mean that’s what we’re doing. We’ll be announcing stuff over the next few months about how we’re changing that, so I think, absolutely, you can.
And then I think the third point, and this is something we talked about earlier, is—and this is sort of the broader trend—that what’s happening is the values of the Web are coming inside companies. And the Web itself is not a neutral thing, right? It has a value system, and it values transparency, it values openness, and it values non-hierarchy. It values people who contribute and get rewarded for actually contributing to the community. I think Gary made that point, right? It’s not like Linux. Everyone likes to point to it as this wonderful open-source thing. It’s a dictatorship, right? Linus Torvalds decides what gets in and what gets out. But, the way that you move up that hierarchy is by writing good code, fixing good bugs, and helping other people—not by, you know, wearing a tie.
So I think that’s what’s happening inside these organizations. A company that looks with a clear eye and says, “I’m here to be productive,” that’s what they’re going to care about: “I want to reward the most productive people, and I don’t really care how good they are at playing politics; I care about what their contributions are.” And I would argue that starting to rewire our businesses with these types of systems will make it easier. Not perfectly easy, but easier to figure out who’s actually adding that value.