The Knowledge Worker Desktop.

Will Enterprise 2.0 change corporate culture or reinvent the silos?

by on Jul.01, 2009, under compliance, eDiscovery, enterprise 2.0, integration drives paradigm shift

At the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston last week there was an impressive representation of actual practitioners of “enterprise social software” from major corporations like BofA, Raytheon, Alcatel-Lucent, Allstate, Humana, Jet Blue, M&M Mars, Eli Lilly, Cisco, Lockheed Martin, Booz Allen Hamilton and many others.

Many participants have blogged about the conference and I will refer to Bill Ives, Larry Hawes and Gil Yehuda and their summaries from the conference for a balanced view of the state of Enterprise 2.0. All have many references to other much respected bloggers and their conference take away and I encourage you to check them out.

Paula Thornton has an interesting post today – in reference to the conference – about “reinventing silos” that I find thought provoking. I have been in the trenches implementing solutions that would only succeed if company culture somehow could change/evolve/adapt. Paula is quoting Ben Foster from Allstate for saying “Enterprises and practitioners are often guilty of using Social Media as a cure chasing a disease.” I agree and will post about the role of organizational silos in my next post – stay tuned.

My own bottom line about the Boston conference is that there is a long way to go before Enterprise 2.0 “grows up” to be “WEB 2.0 for the enterprise” (or “Facebook and Twitter inside the firewall”). Integration with existing legacy systems, including general access control, logging of information exchanges in the context of a project or process combined with an upfront approach to industry specific compliance issues, FRCP and eDiscovery was rarely discussed during the sessions.

I also came away with the sense that a major driving force behind Enterprise 2.0 is a desire to get people to collaborate by other means than email. In essence that Enterprise 2.0 becomes a central repository for the exchange of messages and documents for a team of knowledge workers that need to collaborate in an easy and transparent way towards a common goal – sounds simple enough BUT it is not!

According to a recent AIIM report, there has been a dramatic increase in the understanding of how Web 2.0 technologies such as wikis, blogs, forums, and social networks can be used to improve business collaboration and knowledge sharing, with over half of organizations now considering Enterprise 2.0 to be “important” or “very important” to their business goals and success. Only 17% admitted that they have no idea what it is, compared to 40% at the start of 2008. However, only 25% of organizations are actually doing anything about it – but that is up from 12% in the previous survey.
AIIM does a lot of research and some of the findings are quite scary:

  • 34% of organizations never delete emails, 31% have no policy, 8% delete when running out of storage space, 27% delete after 1- 24 months
  • Some 45% of organizations do not have a policy on Outlook “Archive settings” so most users will likely create .pst archive files on local drives
  • 33% of organizations have no policy to deal with legal discovery, 40% would likely have to search back-up tapes, and 23% feel they would have gaps from deleted emails.
  • 18% had been exposed to a legal challenge in the last 12 months and a further 15% in the last 3 years – a one-in-three chance.

Old habits and deep-seated corporate culture will be difficult to change without the chief change agents being senior management backed by a concerted effort to communicate to employees why this will benefit the overall organization and not threaten the individual. Knowledge is often perceived as power/job security and a difficult thing to share without getting something in return.

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4 Comments for this entry

  • Glenn

    I also agree that consumer and business oriented social networking are profoundly different. Thanks for linking to these experts in their post conference reports. Here is another recap that also includes post conference reports by McAfee and Hinchcliffe and more.

  • Tom G

    Good points, but I was horrified at one assertion here: “before Enterprise 2.0 ‘grows up’ to be ‘WEB 2.0 for the enterprise’ (or ‘Facebook and Twitter inside the firewall’)

    Enterprise 2.0 is not about IT – repeat again, it’s NOT about IT. Or rather, yes, IT has a useful part to play, but the moment we place it as the centre of concern is the moment we lose the plot completely.

    Enterprise 2.0 is essentially about _people_, and people collaborating via _any_ appropriate means, whether IT-based or not. The moment we interpose any assumptions about interaction-mechanisms, it becomes – as you in fact quote in the paragraph above – “using Social Media as a cure chasing a disease”, otherwise known as ‘cart before the horse’. IT-centric ‘solutions’ do _not_ work: they never have. (BPR is one infamous example; likewise most so-called ERP software.) So get back to _people_; keep the Enterprise 2.0 focus on people; and _never_ let yourself get distracted by the technology that may be used to support those people.

    • Poul J. Hebsgaard

      Tom, I think we have a “violent agreement” here.
      I was referring to the Enterprise 2.0 conference here in Boston last week and just tried to make the point that the status of social media today as reflected by the conference has a long way to go before it is enterprise ready. AND yes it is about people and how to assist people getting their work done. FRCP, eDiscovery and Sarbanes-Oxley is not about IT either but are elements of the considerations going into any solution helping people collaborate. Corporate SILOs is not necessarily a bad thing either – I will be blogging about that soon.

  • Liz

    Interesting thoughts. (I have the world’s worst e-mail habits, so I was particularly interested in those numbers. I have GOT to do something…) Jack Bergstrand is an expert in knowledge work productivity management and has written a book, “Reinvent Your Enterprise” showing companies HOW to go about systematically improving productivity. He founded Brand Velocity Inc. and developed the Strategic Profiling enterprise project acceleration instrument. And he’s led several different corporate functions, including the global business systems of Coca-Cola. He knows how to help knowledge workers get the job done. And that’s what’s needed these days.

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  • strategic change management

    strategic change management…

    Great post. My approach to strategic change management says the quality of the first five percent determines what happens in the rest of the process. This same principle applies to many situations….