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Contracts & Social Networking

February 13, 2012

One of the items discussed at the recent IACCM Board Meeting was the impact of social networking on the world of contracts.

There are some obvious questions related to the use of social network sites by contracts and commercial professionals, but these are essentially no different from those which affect other staff groups. They are the inevitable concerns over the use of networking sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook for posting discussion items and the threat to confidentiality these might entail; or the effectiveness of such sites for recruitment; or their informal use for inter-comapny communications on contract issues. Some have turned to more secure managed networks, such as that operated by professional associations like IACCM, as a way to gain ideas and suggestions, or to test new approaches, or to support organizational learning programs.

Recent research points to the importance that younger workers now place on social networking access – not only for their ability to maintain personal contacts, but also to build their professional network.

But when it comes to contracting specifically, I think we may have potential to learn rather more from the experiences of social networks. For example, today I was reading an article about the way that on-line dating sites may steadily transform partner selection. The introduction of evaluation criteria allows the creation of short-lists for potential partners, spreading far beyond the traditional limits of geographic boundaries. Monitoring the success of these relationships is starting to generate more accurate predictions of the criteria for successful matching.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how these same principles may steadily be used to assist in supplier / customer selection. Finding the right type of partner, who not only offers the right sort of product or service but also shares similar or complementary ethical principles, cultural perspectives, appetite for risk or record for innovation, could certainly be enhanced through computer matching.

And another outstanding thought that came from IACCM’s recent interviews on ‘The Future of Contracting’ concerned the sort of techniques already being used by networking sites like Facebook. That is, based on historical preferences and behaviors, starting to predict what will appeal to the other side and clothing a product or service with the commercial terms that match their specific preferences.

These are just a couple of ideas of ways that social networking experiences may start to cross over into the world of contracting. Do you have others?

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