Problem and Opportunity Environment

The following section highlights a few trends and factors that contribute to the relevance of socially-oriented enterprise and technology. We are also generally focused on the positive potential for an escalated emphasis on the social perspective. It is particularly timely at this moment in history to focus on the viewpoint that businesses and other enterprises are fundamentally human social systems. Both the complex of problems and the complex of opportunities have a fundamentally social aspect.  We will briefly review some of the factors that are most interesting for our purposes.
First of all, it is worth noting that there is a rich proliferation of human and ecological problems, from local to global scales. This is no secret, and there are several media industries that are doing quite well for themselves by keeping us informed on all aspects of this problematique a 24-hour a day basis. The pages of any newspaper, or an hour-long television newscast, provide plenty of examples of problems that have their origins in the way humans are living in increasingly complex and widespread social systems.
It is also a truism to mention that we are currently experiencing an increasingly globalized economy. The flat world discussion of Tom Friedman  and others is borne out in experience of the globally integrated enterprise of Sam Palmisano.  This creates interdependencies on a planetary scale that go far beyond the experience of previous generations of human beings.
In parallel with a globalizing economy, businesses and other enterprises are becoming more fragmented through specialization, and then reintegrating in the form of ecosystems of widespread outsourcing and global supply networks. An example of an enterprise ecosystem is the electronics manufacturing industry, where almost anything that can be outsourced continues to spawn separate specialized companies. Another example is mortgage banking, which is fragmented into various specialized banking institutions, bundling loans, sharing risk, and providing various banking services to each other.
We see the financialization of the global monetary and production economy, where various derivative financial instruments facilitate massive value flows and exchanges on a continuous basis. This has led to a few prominent meltdowns of major high-flying corporation, but it also creates a certain dynamic stability of the world economy, where moneys can flow to where they are needed, and away from emerging dangers. We mentioned the mortgage banking example above. This industry has recently experienced a crisis with sub-prime mortgages, a crisis made possible by the risk-masking derivatives that are offered within that enterprise ecosystem.
The sheer complexity of both systems and problems today simply requires increased collaboration. As both systems and problems become more complex, they require more interdisciplinary approaches, which in turn drive ever more effective sociality in pursuit of problem solving. An example of how collaboration is evolving is the idea of wikinomics,  where companies open up the product development process to participation by customers. The ICT industry is struggling to find the best kinds of supporting systems for advanced collaboration, and it is critical to enterprise success in the future.