Monday, June 9, 2008

Implementing Enterprise 2.0: Exploring the Tools and Techniques of Emergent Change

Being successful with Enterprise 2.0 and social computing projects and initiatives requires a clear understanding of the right tools, techniques and critical success factors. This tutorial will provide a comprehensive examination of the latest Enterprise 2.0 tools and platforms, current and cutting edge implementation techniques, and will provide an in-depth exploration of successful Enterprise 2.0 rollouts via the latest case
Speaker: Dion Hinchcliffe, Founder & CTO, Editor-in-Chief of the Web 2.0 Journal, Hinchcliffe & Company

My Notes:
Dion's presentation at last years conference is one of my most popular posts: Intro to Social Computing. So I have high expectations for this session.

[Unfortunately, wifi went down. Just before the session started. And twitter also went down. Steve Jobs was giving a presentation. Like the earlier IBM-Microsoft presentation, the room was too small. Every seat was taken and the overflow room was very full.]

Surprisingly, there were only a few of us in the audience who saw this presentation last year.

Dion encouraged the audience to set up accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Friendfeed. (My presence: Twitter @dougcornelius; Facebook; FriendFeed /dougcornelius)

State of Enterprise 2.0

Dion started with the State of Enterprise 2.0. He sees a still buzz cycle; More people are talking about it then doing it. Two years ago very few of the people in the audience could easily create a blog post or wiki page. Today, nearly everyone in the audience said they could. Dion is seeing the lines blurring between home and business and personal and professional. It is also a bottom-up rather than top-down cycle.

He is tracking Social Media, Enterprise 2.0 and Knowledge Management 2.0 in Google Trends. He also tracked blogs against wikis. Wikis started lower, but have recently surpassed blogs. He is seeing wikis being more widely adopted than blogs inside the enterprise. Dion puts social networks as far along on the adoption curve, father along than consumer blogs and wikis. He thinks Enterprise 2.0 is in the adoption chasm between early adopters and the early majority.

He is still hearing lots of stories of the Enterprise 2.0 tools being adopted in un-official pilots. He told a story about AOL. Someone plugged Mediawiki under a desk. Within 60 days Mediawiki surpassed the official Documentum content management system. Stephen Collins a/k/a Trib asked about what Dion has heard about senior management coming in telling the E2.0 pilots to shut it down. It is a cultural issue. Is your organization one that asks for forgiveness or asks for permission?

Small and medium size business are slow to adopt. Many Small and Medium sized Businesses still live by the yellow page listing and not the web page. (Most research shows that smaller will be slower to adopt. (You can see this a lot in law firms. Big law firms have big websites. Smaller law firms are less likely to have a robust website. I heard a story that the law firms are a top revenue generator for the yellow pages. See here.)

The success stories are starting to dribble out. He is not hearing failure stories. He is not seeing the problems popping up. Results are still hard to pin down. Companies are still having trouble giving up control. He has seen many policies that are so long, you have a hard time figuring out what you can write about. A success factor is getting management and leadership to use the tools. It is a challenge to rate the outcomes. It is hard to measure the value of the community inside the organization.

Dion is seeing a rapidly maturing vendor space. All of the big vendors are offering Enterprise 2.0 tools or at least labeling some of their tools as enterprise 2.0 tools. Lots of older products are being re-purposed. In particular, plug-ins to Outlook are very popular.

The Other Side of the Story

Cultural issues are still a big barrier. Security issues are still a big concern. High leverage tools are still in their infancy. Integrated search almost never is. Inside the enterprise the vast amount of information inside the enterprise is submerged and difficult to find. Enterprises with low levels of "knowledge workers" are not for enterprise 2.0. Factory workers have less need for these tools.

Dion ran through a few of the theses in the Cluetrain Manifesto. Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger got it right ten years ago. We are still in the early years of Enterprise 2.0.

Enterprise 2.0 Redux

Innovation in software and networks is coming from the internet. This is a big change. It used to be that the innovation came from the business world, then dribbled out into the consumer world. We have also already been through a boom/bust cycle on the web. (Hence, Web 2.0.) Of course, we will most likely have a boom/bust cycle in Web 2.0. There will be another unveiling of the pretenders. Some of the enterprise 2.0 companies will be the next

There is a change in the way the web is being used. Control is being pushed to the users. They produce more content than the traditional media company can produce. This means that the lens of information flow is moving from traditional media to social media. platforms. Simplicity rules. The more complexity and the more structure to the tool, the less participation you get.

Dion uses this definition of Web 2.0: "Networked Applications that explicitly leverage network effects" from Tim O'Reilly. Dion moved onto the network effect. (This is the same as Metcalfe's Law.) A network effect occurs when a good or service has more value the more other people have and use the tool. Dion point's us to Reed's Law as a corollary to Metcalfe's Law. Reed's Law is a newer discovery. The social value of the network has a flatter growth curve, but then explodes at a much greater rate than Metcalfe's law. But we greatly under-perform the potential value of networks.

Applying the Web 2.0 Effect at Work

Everyone gets a voice and everyone can find it. This leaves behind highly reusable knowledge. (Aha!! Knowledge Management 2.0!) If you get the same question asked time and time again, put up a blog post with the answers. If you have decent search, then they will find it. An audience member questioned the cultural side of people being concerned that a person will not contribute information if they think it will make them less relevant. Some people want people coming to their doorstep. The consumers of that knowledge do not want to have to go to that doorstep.

Another member was concerned about two people blogging inside the company about the same thing. How do you link that information together? Dion points out that bloggers tend to be big consumers of other blogs. Dion has typically seen that those two bloggers inside the company will find each other and begin combining efforts.

An audience member pointed out the importance of community. That sometimes you do not want to be globally visible. People need smaller, more intimate places to let ideas grow and bubble up before it is ready for view by the larger community. Dion thinks the default should be global and having to elect to go private. Most systems are the opposite. You need to set up a security group to give broader access.

Dion sees consumers having much more demand for transparency from the companies they do business with. Businesses will start suffering from a competitive disadvantage if they stay opaque.

Benefits of Enterprise 2.0

Increased knowledge retention
More adoption and use of knowledge management tools (knowledge management 2.0 again!)
Higher levels of productivity

Why is Enterprise 2.0 Different?

Nearly zero barriers to adoption. These are easy to use tools. You let the structure emerge rather than imposing the structure. Emergent structure is better than pre-defined structure. Of course, not all business processes work well with Enterprise 2.0. You no longer need experts to make changes to content. Anyone can change or add content. You need to have faith in your enterprise. People need to be responsible for what they do and say. The applciations are simpler. All those tools and baubles in Word that you do not use are gone. The tool s are flexible and can be used in many different ways.

Enterprise 2.0 Checklist

Dion still goes by SLATES as the correct paradigm for Enterprise 2.0.

  • Search is very important. You need to discover information. (The failure of intranets is that they do not make it easier to find information.)
  • Links are need to put information in context. They allow you to move back and forth between content.
  • Authorship is important to allow everyone with access to the platform and identify them when they contribute content.
  • Tags allow us to apply our perspective to the content. You should also be able to see what other people thinks about that item of content.
  • Extensions mine patterns and user activity. "You may also be interested in . . . ." Amazon is one of the best examples of this. The cure for too much information is more information.
  • Signals make information easier to consume. Signals push out updates of new information. It shows you the flow and not just the artifact.
I was unable to stay for the second half of Dion's presentation. But I did meat up with a great group in the lobby, including Luis Suarez, Stephen Collins and Chris McGrath.

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