Is Enterprise 2.0 a Crock?

enterpise 2.0

I’m attending the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. I’m sharing my notes from this session.

  • e2 Moderator – David Berlind, Chief Content Officer, TechWeb
  • Jamie Pappas, Manager, Social Media Strategy, EMC
  • Bryce Williams, Social Media Consultant, Eli Lilly
  • Megan Murray, Community Manager/Project Coordinator, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Claire Flanagan, Senior Manager, KM and Enterprise Social Collaboration, CSC
  • Bruce Galinsky, Director IT, Metlife
  • Greg Lowe, Social Media Architect/Program Manager, Alcatel-Lucent

David started off by point out that this session was set up as a response to Dennis Howlett’s Enterprise 2.0 What a Crock. (Although he didn’t mention Dennis by name, merely saying a ZDnet blogger.) The panelists are part of the Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Council.

Workplace Transformation.

The first topic the panel addressed was workplace transformation. Greg pointed out that Alcatel wants to break down organizational silos so that people doing similar things can find each other. He points out that in big organizations have a hard time finding internal expertise.

Claire pointed out that the tools are enabling devices.She points out that the tools are not an incremental change, but a quantum leap. She comes from knowledge management where the concept was to push information into a new silo. These new tools allow knowledge capture as part of the workflow.

Bruce agreed. The tools make sharing easier.  Bruce emphasized the need for speed and innovation in the marketplace. Enterprise 2.0 tools help.

Business Process

Claire points out that the 9-to-5 office has been eroding. People are collaborating around the world, so face to face collaboration is not feasible.

Intellectual Property/Privacy/Governance

You need to focus on the governance and compliance issues. There was some discussion of the benefit of open governance, allowing organization groups to get input from other groups in creating policies.

Companies need to start stop not trusting their employees. The biggest threat is from within. But you need to educate employees. Malicious people will find ways around the lock-down. Email is no more secure than Enterprise 2.0 tools.

Religious Wars (Technology and Generational Bias)

The importance is tools that are easy and intuitive to use. Some companies prefer open source, some prefer Microsoft and others IBM. People want the tools to communicate better to remove information silos.

Bottom-Line Business Benefits

The elusive quest for ROI on technology tools. The panelists agree that this is the biggest challenge. It is hard to show the direct benefits of collaboration. One panelists took the time saved approach to measurement. The tools allowed a project to be done faster. Another did a comparison of the time and money comparison between reply-all emails and a wiki. (Of course, this is soft dollars.)

Then the audience joined in.

One question was how you value the better decision-making that can come from use of Enterprise 2.0 tools. A panelist gave the example of how the company sent an open question on how to save money. They got lots of good feedback and money-saving ideas. The tools allow management to get better feedback and an ability to tap into the conversations happening in the organization.

Claire pointed out the need to find a tool that is “addictive.” Employees will vote with their feet and use what works best for them. Tools need to be easy to use and intuitive. And of course, useful.

My Take

Enterprise 2.0 is still looking for pays to justify itself. People that have used the tools (at least the good tools) do find them addictive. The problem is comparing the tools to email when it comes to ROI. The ROI for email was easy. Email was obviously cheaper and faster than mail or overnight delivery of documents. It was also cheaper than a phone call. The ROI for Enterprise 2.0 tools is much more elusive.

I think Enterprise 2.0 should look to some of the arguments for knowledge management. Sure, knowledge management largely died because the tools and approach were flawed. I find the Enterprise 2.0 approach to be the better approach to knowledge management. You are capturing the intellectual capital of your enterprise as part of their workflow.