For more forward-thinking organizations, the social infrastructures of the future are already here — helping to foster collaboration, build trust and spark innovation among people engaged in social networking on a global scale. They are integrated with existing IT investments without worrying about breaches of data – and take advantage of open source technologies.

These organizations are making the leap to more productive forms of social engagement, as Rachel Botsman describes in her TED Talk “The currency of the new economy is trust.” She refers to the power of technology to build trust between strangers, using examples like Airbnb, TaskRabbit and other companies that are modeling new ways to connect.

In another TED Talk, “How cognitive surplus will change the world,” Clay Shirky describes how people are collaborating more meaningfully through the Ushahidi approach to aggregating and sharing information. Both his and Botsman’s talks focus on the evolution of new communication models in which connection, collaboration and innovation can all thrive.

We’re seeing business organizations of all kinds integrating social technologies into their intranets to transform how people connect:

  1. At the biotechnology company Finceramica, slow, cumbersome email and courier deliveries of information to surgeons are giving way to direct, real-time interaction with medical device models to speed the process of moving from prototypes to real, life-saving solutions.
  2. Financial services provider Banco Pastor is breaking down barriers to information by empowering employees with a direct, self-service connection to its HR systems.
  3. The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria scrapped employee laptops in favor of a more intuitive, direct mobile solution for roaming users that puts them closer to the information they need, no matter where they are.

Barriers to human connection, communication and collaboration take many forms. Fortunately, there are also many tools available to bring the barriers down. Learn more during a LIVE chat on Thursday, September 18 as I examine how to reimagine trust with my fellow social business expert Simon Mainwaring at

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This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit  IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.