Web Will Create Roles For Social Sciences

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Gartner says the bridge to the future with social networks will be with roles with origins in the social sciences

A leading technology analyst firm says that many social sciences roles will be needed to work with corporations in helping to better understand the Web behaviour of customers, online communities, personal brands and the spectrum of social networking communication.

In a recent report “Social Science Meets Technology in Next-Generation Jobs,” Gartner Vice President Kathy Harris discusses in some detail four areas of jobs needed in the near future. Though she never really uses the words “social networks” the implication is that most companies aren’t really geared toward taking advantage of the impact of these online communities, and that the numbers will be too large to ignore, regardless of the business you are in.

“Many of the needed technical capabilities originate in the social sciences and are aimed at usability and adoption of technology-related business services,” Harris said in a release. “These capabilities embody the notion of ‘action at the interface’ between the enterprise and its markets or between business management and technology management. Therefore, organisations are likely to shift the responsibility for leveraging technology outside centralised IT organisations and into the business units responsible for growth and innovation of revenue, products, and services.”

The four areas detailed include:

  • Web User Experience roles that include UI designers, virtual-assistant designers and interaction directors)
  • Behavior Analysis roles that include Web psychologists, community designers, and Web/social network miners
  • Information Specialist roles that include information anthropologists who are expected to play historical Web fact finding and assisting in legal analysis, intellectual property management and where the quality of information is at risk.
  • Digital Lifestyle Experts roles that include helping senior management understand whats going on and stay aware, and building personal brands and managing online personas for desired online effect.

Some of these roles are starting to happen already, and yet some of them seem to part of the evolution of pre-exsisting job titles that may not actually change. I imagine when we start talking about “information specialists” roles they might end being extensions of legal departments, especially where brand and product protection is required.

Much of this seems as if it will be part of the what has to be going on in the advertising world, where much of the behavior of online communities is studied and modified for marketing purposes. You don’t have to look much further than Google’s purchase of Doubleclick to see the connections between online behavior and advertising.

Yet, Gartner is talking in a larger sense for those companies that want to take advantage of social networking in new ways, and want to do it internally if and where they can.

“The future is solidly connected to the Web and new work streams clearly need to arise to support this,” said Harris in the same release. “Creative, artistic and clever people will develop the early iterations of these new jobs. This will enable businesses and government to take early advantage of new capabilities and develop them into mainstream skills.”