There has been a lot of controversy in the Enterprise 2.0 space recently. Dennis Howlett has been questioning the promise of Enterprise 2.0 for a while now and recent posts like “Enterprise 2.0 is a crock” and “Enterprise 2.0 now we’re talking” have kept the conversation flowing. I am a supporter Enterprise 2.0, but I am stuck in the middle of this debate somewhere between the promise of improved collaboration and the term Enterprise 2.0.
Dennis makes some valid points, and the points that really stand out for me are:
- The term Enterprise 2.0 is a tough term for most organizations and many see the E2.0 tools as additional work and do not want to participate.
- Organizations have many large scale problems to solve and improving collaboration is usually not the most important problem to be addressed.
- Organizations do not want to build SOCIAL into their applications because they fear that it will be a distraction.
But, here is where I part from Dennis:
Like it or not, large enterprises - the big name brands - have to work in structures and hierarchies that most E2.0 mavens ridicule but can’t come up with alternatives that make any sort of corporate sense. Therein lies the Big Lie. Enterprise 2.0 pre-supposes that you can upend hierarchies for the benefit of all.
Most large organizations do have a hierarchical structure and I agree that this is not going to change, however I dislike Dennis’s term “Big Lie” because I do not see E2.0 breaking down the hierarchy but instead improving communications across the hierarchy by sharing more relevant data.
Justifying Enterprise 2.0 benefits to those at the top of the hierarchy is a real challenge and one of the reasons why many organizations are not adopting a real Enterprise 2.0 strategy. Oliver Marks recently jumped in with a post called The Enterprise 2.0 Value Propositions Agenda where he outlines the difficulties justifying a Enterprise 2.0 strategy:
Collaboration comes from ‘co-labor’ and that is the heart of the enabling E2.0 technologies, but organizing that labor with evidence of improved results is arguably the achilles heel of E2.0 as a movement .……
Will the promise of Enterprise 2.0 technology as transcending business tools that extract more value from happier, more productive individual employees come to fruition? That will depend on the ability of the Enterprise 2.0 market to clearly provide tangible business value propositions and use case validations that are attractive to all levels of business users.
My thought is that it is not up to the Enterprise 2.0 market to provide business value but instead this responsibility lies at the feet of the Enterprise 2.0 advocates trying to justify these strategies, and I struggle with this every day. We have been taking about Enterprise 2.0 for almost 3 years now and we still struggle with the value that it delivers. If we can’t clearly articulate the value, how can we expect others to invest in the value?
delivering tangible value in the context of known functions and processes in the enterprise: purpose driven collaboration, reducing customer support costs via social concepts and improving product innovation via social concepts. No tools, no features and frankly no adoption. Just performance acceleration via strategic process and performance alignment.
Identifying and communicating this value is key to justifying a Enterprise 2.0 strategy. Without a justification, there is no succinct strategy across the hierarchy and we are left with point solutions to solve individual problems. This is the position that I am in right now, and that works for me. For now, I am looking at Enterprise 2.0 as another set of tools that can be integrated where and when it makes sense. There is no Institute wide strategy for improved collaboration and I will not limit improved collaboration efforts to Enterprise 2.0.
I feel strongly that the road to improved collaboration includes more than just blogs, wiki’s and micro-blogging. We need to think past the communication to the data. We need real mashup tools that integrate with current business process and deal with data. We need tools that can search and find relevant data inside the organization along with improved identity tools to help facilitate access to data across disparate systems.
There is value in improving business process, if we focus on that and integrate the appropriate tools into the process then we all win.