Posts Tagged ‘Enterprise 2.0’

What I consider to be one of the key benefits of social media in organizations is this: It takes communications and collaboration into a whole new era.

But what if we’re not ready to take that plunge? Do we first need to declutter in order to reap the benefits of social media? I’m afraid yes. I have previously written about email being one of the biggest productivity barriers of our time. Well, how did email go from being the biggest thing since sliced bread (just 10-15 years ago) to becoming a real addictive nuisance to a lot of people? Well, like so many other addictions it’s difficult to deal with it rationally – simply because it’s all about brain chemistry. It’s not that we don’t understand the addictive nature of it, we just can’t help ourselves because we neeeed that dopamine rush.

So what’s the effect of adding a whole series of new social tools into the picture? Judging by consumer web 2.0 tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube things are probably not getting any simpler. My experience is that this generation of social tools is every bit as addictive as email (which can be both good and bad).

Life hacks

This is where life hacks will save you. According to Wikipedia “life hack refers to productivity tricks that programmers devise and employ to cut through information overload and organize their data”, however today “anything that solves an everyday problem in a clever or non-obvious way might be called a life hack”.

One of my favourite life hacks is still the one presented in Merlin Mann’s speech at the Google Tech Talks in 2007. It’s very very simple and yet not that many people actually do it. The clip takes almost an hour, but I tell you, it’s gonna be one of the best hours you’ve spent in a long time.

But I want to go one step further. I want companies to life-hack their inboxes and make room for some of the productivity-enhancing, joy-spreading and innovation-creating Enterprise 2.0 tools. And then I want them to life-hack their Enterprise 2.0 tools. I call it Digital Habits 2.0.

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Last week I took part in a great Enterprise 2.0 conference in Copenhagen and it gave me a brilliant opportunity to talk to dozens of Enterprise 2.0 practitioners from industry and organizations – and, of course, the ‘gurus’ :)

A very common challenge among practitioners is the executive sponsorship – (ahem) or lack thereof. Even in companies which I would consider really having a finger on the pulse and being social media leaders, practitioners report lack of C-level sponsorship, lack of interest and, not least, lack of money. These are the same decision-makers who regularly fund ERP projects with seven or eight figure budgets. My conclusion, at this stage, is that top executives are still largely ignorant about Enterprise 2.0 terminologies and, at best, they are only vaguely familiar with terms like Enterprise 2.0, corporate social media, social computing, microblogging and wikis. At worst, they consider them a waste of time and believe we’re talking about Facebook.

But just like any other sound business decision, a decision to deploy corporate social media needs to be based on a sound business case. This is the merciless truth about corporate sponsorships and bags of cash to follow.

Drivers

Let’s look at some of the drivers. According to social media guru Suw Charman-Anderson, 38% of all employees get more than 100 emails a day, 13% more than 250 emails and 20% spend more than 4 hours a day sifting through emails. We check our emails on average every 5 minutes and it takes us 64 seconds to get our train of thought back on track after we deal with email. This means we spend 48 days a year figuring out what we were just doing. Email is quickly becoming the number one productivity obstacle. An organizational dinosaur. 1-0. Go figure out how much productivity potential lies in driving communication and collaboration from email to social media in your organization.

A recent study by the INSEAD and Wharton business schools provided overwhelming evidence that virtual brainstorming, or distributed idea generation as it’s also known as (e.g. wikis), outperforms actual face-to-face brainstorming. Let’s think about that one. “This has significant managerial implications: if the interactive build-up [of team brainstorming] is not leading to better ideas, an organization might be better off relying on asynchronous idea generation by individuals using, for example, web-based idea management systems.” So if your organization is focused on innovation, this is the way to go. 2-0 and it’s not even half time.

Bottom line, companies are beginning to reap major benefits in terms of higher revenues (through shared external networks), faster time to market (through more effective collaboration and innovation), lower employee turnover (through better talent attraction and retention) and higher productivity (through less duplication of efforts). The list goes on.

In the words of one of my Twitter followers:

“It’s certainly interesting to see what social computing can do for our existing organizations, but it’s even more interesting to see what organizations we can build with social computing”.

Let’s build your business case!

I’m a firm believer that Enterprise 2.0 is all about communications. It may be a bland statement, but it also emphasizes the fact that Enterprise 2.0 is first and foremost defined by an organizational culture in which communication in the form of dialogue flows freely and without constraints. That’s the very basic concept. It defines itself through organizations whose management understands that information is not power if kept to the chosen few, but if dispersed and enriched as a premise for collaboration. Another core premise for a true Enterprise 2.0 culture is that it’s actively endorsed, supported, sponsored (call it whatever you want) by top management (preferably the CEO).

Meanwhile, we are now blessed with software and services, which can actually make the Enterprise 2.0 dream come true. Now, I have worked with knowledge management software since 1999 (when one of my customers accidentally fell in love with a very rudimentary learning system from SAP and wanted to use it for sharing of general company knowledge) and things have changed very dramatically since then. Back then we all had rather wet dreams about collaboration, but the whole culture of sharing, voting, rating, commenting, blogging and microblogging was still not around. A lot of the services which are now possible, wouldn’t have been possible, simply because people (employees) weren’t culturally and mentally ready for the leap. Web 2.0 helped change all that. A friend of mine recently said that we used to be inspired by software used at work and would introduce it onto our private computers, but now the trend has reversed and we are increasingly far more innovative privately and push to get the same software and services at work.

Jive’s product video below illustrates this point quite well. It addresses itself to the average guy who wants the social aspect back into his work life…

We really have a lot to thank the likes of Facebook, MySpace, Friends Reunited and LinkedIn for. Without them paving the way we wouldn’t be anywhere near the push and adoption rates we’re looking at right now. I recently took part in a conference about corporate social media and a speaker representing a company having introduced some elements of Enterprise 2.0 said the major push had come from the employees. Amazing – imagine if that had happened back in the old ERP days. That was when the mere mention of an ERP implementation was enough to make people quit and flee the company :-)

Anyway, I’m drifting and my intention in this blog post was to talk about the “app side of Enterprise 2.0”. Now that we have established that Enterprise 2.0 isn’t *just* a software suite you can roll out and, Bob’s your uncle, you have a communicative and collaborative company, we can move on to talk about those types of applications which can help fulfill the dream.

I generally categorize Enterprise 2.0 apps into these categories (but that’s just my slant on it – I’d love to hear your views):

  • Microblogs
  • Blogs (written and video)
  • Wikis
  • Chat/instant messaging
  • Collaborative tagging (folksonomy) of all internal and external content
  • Rating and commenting capabilities (for blogs, links, documents, images, people)
  • Profile pages (personal and skills content)
  • Merit awards/levels
  • Collaborative development of content
  • Groups
  • Network sharing (internal follow and view external contacts)

There are some really good narrow services like Yammer for microblogging, which are very widely adopted. And then there are whole suites incorporating more areas. At this stage I generally find that the narrow services are more cutting edge, but the downside is that you have to start looking at several point solutions.

Citatet er fra AIIM’s undersøgelse Collaboration and Enterprise 2.0 fra slutningen af 2009 og det er et citat, som jeg, siden jeg læste undersøgelsen, vender tilbage til igen og igen.

For det første er det hovedrystende sandt. Kender vi efterhånden ikke alle den situation, at vi i vores arbejdsvirke må nøjes med inferiøre værktøjer i forhold til dem, vi er blevet vant til på internettet? Vi er blevet vant til Web 2.0-universet, hvad enten vi kender begrebet eller ej, og muligheden for at kunne søge og finde alt på et splitsekund, at kommentere på venners Facebook-status, på deres Twitter-update, på LinkedIn. Vi ved efterhånden mere detaljeret, hvad vores venner i udlandet laver LIGE NU end vores kollega 10 meter længere henne.

Jeg har haft dette oppe i mine diskussioner med adskillige store og små danske virksomheder i løbet af de sidste 2 måneder og reaktionen er, næsten over en bred kam, at det er så sandt, så sandt og at de fleste faktisk meget gerne vil gøre noget ved det. Ikke kun fordi der efterhånden er ved at opstå et medarbejderpres, men også fordi det giver forretningsmæssigt voldsomt god mening.

Hvis nogen af jer kender Gmail, så ved I, at man nu modtager kontekstrelaterede Google Adwords, mens man læser emails. Hvis jeg fx læser en email fra min kone, hvor hun foreslår en lille sviptur til Paris (gid hun gjorde), så handler reklamerne i højre side om feriehuse i Frankrig, billige flybilletter til Paris osv. Dvs. jeg får ”pushed” relevant information lige ind i mit synsfelt.

Jeg forestiller mig, at virksomheder på samme måde skaber platforme, der ”pusher” helt konkret kontekstrelevant information til sine medarbejdere på tværs af applikationer både inden for firewallen og fra skyen. Så slipper man for, at det samme projekt uafhængigt af hinanden igangsættes 3 gange i samme organisation inden for blot 18 måneder og forventningerne er øget produktivitet, øget arbejdsglæde, øget videndeling – og øget Return On Information.

Hvad er jeres tanker om dette og har I taget initiativer i denne retning?

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by one of the most passionate and well-informed airline observers, The AirObserver’s Blog, last week. It’s now online here. I talk about the challenges faced by traditional carriers and low cost carriers alike when dealing with digital natives (Generation Y and Generation Z). I would personally like airlines to put a lot more effort into understanding digital natives and coming up with more great initiatives like Southwest, Cathay and Virgin.

Another couple of inspired guys are Chris Brogan and Shashank Nigam.

An incredible amount has been and is being said about the two terms Enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0 – and recently discussions in leading blogs about the two topics have moved to the mutual dependency of those two concepts.

If you listen to Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT (video below), you’ll learn that, crudely defined, Enterprise 2.0 is Web 2.0 inside the firewall. And according to Stowe Boyd,

“Enterprise 2.0 has been a simple and useful metaphor that assumes that Web 2.0 technologies (like contemporary social media, social networking, social tools, and the underlying set of technologies that make up the Web 2.0 model: open source stack (LAMP), web as a platform, open APIs, and so on) can be beneficially applied in the enterprise context. This means the eventual displacement of various enterprise technologies and business practices by new ones, strongly influenced by what is happening and working in the open (not enterprise) web.”

Nothing weird or controversial there. I can fully subscribe to those definitions.

What I want to examine in this post is:

  1. To what extent successful deployment of Web 2.0 requires Enterprise 2.0
  2. Generation Y as an Enterprise 2.0 driver in its own right

To what extent does successful deployment of Web 2.0 require Enterprise 2.0?

This is definitely a very good question and one that can’t be justly answered without making some assumptions. I would like to think of Web 2.0 as creating a strong dialogue with your customers (or “users”, which is becoming the Web 2.0 term of choice). It’s the culture of interaction and users expect authenticity, openness and responsiveness. They expect a good look under the bonnet, but they don’t necessarily expect perfection. In fact if they see and experience too much perfection, they immediately suspect “fake”. Imperfection is a fully accepted circumstance in Web 2.0 and tells users that this enterprise is human – after all. This is what some (most) managers still don’t fully understand. Letting go and exposing some of your imperfections is okay as long as you’re honest about it and tell people you’re going to do something about it.

Of course being honest and authentic requires you (the employee) “to know”. You need to know what the company strategy is, what your company’s position is on certain issues, how to respond to criticism, how to route questions you can’t answer, what tone to use , what media to get involved in (Facebook, YouTube, blogs, Twitter) and a lot more.

That’s where practice comes in. In his blog, “Practice inside to express yourself outside”, Gil Yehuda, guru and former software developer, compares living by Enterprise 2.0 to the very critical testing of software prior to release. He says, “one of the early lessons I learned as a technologist was the importance of testing before “going live”. As a developer and project manager I learned how carefully software must be tested — tested for functional correctness, usability, security breaches, performance issues, and failure conditions. Testing was a time consuming part of developing code, but the cost was outweighed by the value of getting it right. Moreover the cost of rolling out bad software was too high to risk. No one wants to test their software in production — with all eyes on you, and the cost of failure so high!”

The point is you don’t expose a 2.0 immature organization to Web 2.0. At best it will have absolutely no impact (which is actually what happens most of the time, when organizations decide they “have to be on Facebook”). At worst it can result in disillusioned users and the viral aspects of Web 2.0 spinning out of control.

From this perspective it would definitely be wise for organizations to introduce an Enterprise 2.0 culture prior to Web 2.0.

Generation Y as an Enterprise 2.0 driver in its own right

In previous blog posts I have talked about the labour market revolution taking place before our eyes; the growth in workforce numbers of Generation Y, the digital natives – soon to become the biggest labour market generation. This generation has totally different expectations to work and to enterprise software. They tend not to think in hierarchies, they think in networks and they expect enterprises to accommodate them.

I just read an interview with SunGard’s CEO Cristóbal Conde talking about flatter and better organizations. He says: “Collaboration is one of the most difficult challenges in management. I think top-down organizations got started because the bosses either knew more or they had access to more information. None of that applies now. Everybody has access to identical amounts of information.”

This is a brilliant point and Conde goes on to state that the management challenge is to establish a meritocracy in a highly dispersed environment (assuming that most organizations these days are virtual and/or geographically dispersed). He suggests the “answer is to allow employees to develop a name for themselves that is irrespective of their organizational ranking or where they sit in the org chart. And it actually is not a question about monetary incentives. They do it because recognition from their peers is an extremely strong motivating factor, and something that is broadly unused in modern management.”

SunGard uses very simply tools, like Yammer (which my organization, Akselera, also introduced a few months ago) and focuses on Enterprise 2.0 as a cultural exercise fully embraced and supported by top management.

A recent survey by the AIIM stated that 71% agree that it’s easier to locate knowledge on the web than on internal systems. This was across all employees and my guess is that among Generation Y it was close to 100%. The same survey found that 75% of all employees said that “better use of shared knowledge” was one of 3 top driver for Enterprise 2.0 initiatives in their organization.

Interestingly the survey didn’t ask the respondents if Web 2.0 was a business driver for Enterprise 2.0. It would have definitely been interesting to see “shared knowledge” and “Web 2.0” measured against each other.

Regardless, I think it is reasonable to conclude that:

  • Enterprise 2.0 does not need Web 2.0 as a driver.
  • Web 2.0 will have a much better chance of succeeding in Enterprise 2.0 ready organizations
  • And with the rapidly growing numbers of digital natives in the workforce, Generation Y and sound leadership should be viewed as a strong Enterprise 2.0 driver in its own right.