Last week, I went to the Dreamforce conference. It’s Salesforce.com’s annual gathering of the clan. It’s a convention of people who sell stuff to sales people and the sales people who buy that stuff.
I went hoping I wouldn’t be beaten to death with motivational posters and welbutrin laced energy drinks.
The place was a madhouse, rich in testosterone and adrenaline. Real booth babes in real booth babe outfits. Three men for every woman. Reptilian vibes. And vendors. Hundreds of vendors. Metallica in the late night street party.
Really, angry hard metal for the contemporary salesguy. And suits. More suits than you usually see in San Francisco.
LinkedIn was there selling business intelligence. Not too many folks from our neck of the woods. I only saw Jason Corsello and Sean Rehder. They were both hunting for innovation that could be applied in our market.
It was intense and the opposite of most HR conferences.
My personal epiphany came as I was browsing the Dreamforce Bookstore.
Along with Logo-ed Salesforce.com goodies. There were about 75 different management best sellers in great big stacks. Books about networks, lots of them. Books about using social media. Even more. Books about measurement and analytics. Tons.
Everything was available in a Dummies edition. Everything.
What I realized is that everyone has begun to sound the same. Our contemporary paradigm is nearly set in concrete. It goes something like:
“Social networks, based on social media, are the path to the future. Everyone you know is only six degrees of separation from everyone else. This is ushering in a new era of flat organizations, greater informality, deep flexibility and customized personal experience. We are at the edge of an astonishing epoch because networks and collaboration are the key to an explosion of creativity and a thunderstorm of patents following the death of the PC and the rise of mobile tools. We will crowd source the economy with location based gamification”
That’s what they all said.
That view of the world has become so conventional that it has to be wrong. It is so pervasive that it has to be about ready to change.
Arthur C. Clarke is credited with the futurists paradox: “Any likely future sounds so unlikely that the forecast will be ridiculed. Any future that sounds right is inevitably far from the truth.”
There, at Dreamforce, I realized that we’re on the verge of a future that is nothing like our view of it. The networked view has run its course.
Keep your eyes on this space. We’re wrapping up our first ever comprehensive analysis of social media in the HR and Recruiting sectors. The report will be available for sale on the 15th of October.