All comments posted on this blog do not reflect the opinions of any organization that I am affiliated with. These are my personal perspectives only.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Getting started with Enterprise 2.0: Now what?!

So your company has decided to go head first into Enterprise 2.0 thing. Perhaps you convinced those decision makers with that slick "Meet Charlie" slideshow on why it's key to the business. Great! You've read all the articles, subscribe to all the key blogs, bought all the nifty tools and you are ready to go! Now where to start?

Well, perhaps you'd want to listen to the input of 119 CIO's that Forrester surveyed. In general, their finding was that of the whole web 2.0 spectrum of applications the three that had good business value were RSS, wiki's and tagging. The tools of questionable business value included blogging and social networks.

The "good value" ones, are clearly productivity enhancers. RSS provides the ability to manage information and personalize content, free from clutter and ads. It saves valuable time in getting the best information from several sources. Wiki's address the challenges of coordination of documents, version control and tagging provides a decentralized means to metadata that allow us to classify things the way the author had intended and ultimately able to find relevant information faster. If you are looking for incremental gains, definitely look at these. Although wiki's are closer to being a collaboration & innovation enabler, RSS & tagging alone do not push collaboration.

You could try to argue that the "questionable" tools also create productivity but it would be difficult. In fact, you are likely to get the exact opposite reaction, which is, these tools provide opportunities for our employees to waste time. It is reminiscent of McGregor's Theory X & Theory Y (which is nicely summarized by Bertrand Dupperin) work done decades ago. It is also the classic risk reward scenario. The perceived risk by Theory X'ers are 1) People will Waste Time, 2) People will blog about items that run counter to the goals of the organization.

Blogging, isn't only a communication vehicle for keeping in touch, it's a rich communication vehicle capable of providing a personality to an executive. Those who use it wisely, will be able to show genuine character, vulnerability, sincerity, transparency, emotion, personalization, and personality. So what? TRUST! Trust is something that evolves over time, through a series of interactions and history. Think about it. Why do you trust the people that you do? I've written before that trust is a pre-requisite to employee engagement and ultimately collaboration.

Social Forums & Social Networks, are a bit more complicated in my opinion. At first glance it would seem to make sense that people sharing stories and helping one another out is nothing but good value. You still get the concerns over time wasting, but you also have greater concern over controversial content as larger communities are required for forums. Blogs for example, could be controlled so only certain people are allowed to blog at first and can more easily be governed if one wants to. There are also questions as to what forums are allowed and not allowed, and possibly concerns that forums may actually bring some people together, but drive larger groups apart as discussed at Mesh07.

Like all business decisions. Understand first what you are trying to achieve, and be specific. Incremental productivity gains, go with RSS, Tagging and Wiki's. There is little downside to these tools beyond standard change-management. If you are after cultural change, innovation, next generation collaboration consider social forums, blogs and other social based applications but proceed with well thought out plans around the process and people aspects and not just the technical aspects. Not all enterprise 2.0 technologies are created equal. If you get stuck... You might want to join an E2.0 social network ;)

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