The Knowledge Worker Desktop.

Enterprise 2.0 and white collar productivity improvements.

by on Sep.14, 2009, under enterprise 2.0, integration drives paradigm shift, software for the knowledge worker

The discussion about how we define Enterprise 2.0 is still going on in some great blogs and the general business media months after the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston in June 2009.

Having spent the last few weeks in Europe and observed the discussion about the use of social media inside public and private organizations I am beginning to get a clearer picture of how the new media tools might evolve – with some serious help from my colleagues and some major ongoing KM projects within public and private organizations here in Scandinavia.

First a little background – I and several of my colleagues were involved in the upstart of a company (www.maconomy.com) developing ERP software solutions in the early 1990s.

We competed head-on with other ERP providers – SAP, Oracle Financial, PeopleSoft, Lawson, Navision, Great Plains, etc. – and evolved into specializing in “ERP for the service industries” – Consulting firms, PR firms, Engineering firms, Advertising firms, Media Communication firms and similar project based organizations where knowledge workers collaborated around projects.

ERP systems evolved into integrated suites handling the mundane – blue collar -  tasks of Finance (G/L), Budgeting, Receivables (A/R), Payables (A/P), Inventory, Time & Expense, Distribution, Invoicing, Purchasing, etc. all in one integrated package or suite, replacing best-of-breed point solutions.

Integration provided a “blue collar” productivity improvement that made ERP the superior offering.

Knowledge workers in the creative part of the service industries did not see the same “white collar” productivity improvement. Yes, they captured time and expenses more accurately and got more control of the financial part of budgeting for projects – in other words all the structured information.

Unstructured information – i.e. project scope changes, contract amendments and the like – and necessary collaboration between corporate silos were lacking, too formal and not timely. AND lacking not just because of culture differences between the corporate silos of Finance, Legal and Creative groups but because available tools were cumbersome, inadequate and non-intuitive.

Enterprise 2.0 is addressing this gap trying to gain some control and structure to the social media tools that people knew from their private lives and just started using social media tools in a corporate environment because they addressed a basic need for collaboration and interaction.

Bill Ives has a post about “management lurking and monitoring” and Patti Anklam is writing about organizational shifts that must occur in order to get an organization to a state in which “knowledge is fresh and findable and represents the best thinking in an organization”. Nick Milton is describing KM managers final weapon – Stakeholder Mapping, i.e. relationships of power and influence (or power and impact). Carl Frappaolo is writing about not confusing Enterprise 2.0 with WEB 2.0.

All are great reads and I encourage everybody interested in Enterprise 2.0 to visit these blogs.

This leads me to “white collar” productivity and what we at cBrain are beginning to call the Knowledge Worker Desktop.

I feel that we are at the beginning of “white collar” productivity improvements that parallel the “blue collar” productivity improvements we witnessed from integrated ERP in the 1990s.

“Integration”, I believe will become the key driver for white collar productivity improvements using Enterprise 2.0 tools.

I my next posting I will address how I see Enterprise 2.0 and Knowledge Management evolve and possibly merge into one concept (?) and how we at cBrain use “The Innovative Room” as a methodology to arrive at solutions.

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