Enterprise social tools are garbage, says Red Hat CEO

Updated. Fans of enterprise social networking have high hopes for these tools, touting their potential ability to break down silos, increase morale and cohesion, and pierce the executive bubble. But as hot a topic as the likes of Jive, Yammer and Asana are, not everyone is a fan of the concept. In fact, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst recently described them as garbage, reports Business Insider:

Everyone’s talking about the importance of engaging employees, and the Facebook generation and collaboration tools. All of that is garbage … collaboration is a culture. It’s not a set of tools.

Despite all the hype, “you can’t buy your way to collaboration. If employees are not already working that way, tools become nothing more than a high-tech version of the never-used suggestion box,” writes BI’s Julie Bort, explaining Whitehurst’s point of view.

The idea that offline culture might hinder enterprise social adoption has been raised here on WebWorkerDaily before, but when speaking to the executives of companies selling these products, it’s hard to get anyone to admit that a less than open corporate ethos might undermine these tools, nor that they may lack the power to transform a organization’s troublesome tendencies to horde information or sugar coat information for the higher ups. These executives have no trouble knocking the competition’s adoptability or user friendliness, but few seem willing to admit the problem might not be product design or flawed roll outs but human nature and corporate culture.

While enterprise social seems like a great lubricant for information exchange and collaboration at companies that already value these things, can these tools really work if a firm doesn’t already have a culture of sharing?

Update: Asana was described in the Business Insider story as an enterprise social network, but it is actually a productivity and task management tool.

Photo courtesy stock.xchng user sundstrom.