Who’s Afraid of Enterprise 2.0?

originally posted on Concept Hub

This past week I led the second session of our online classes, which was Advanced Internet Syndication (optimizing your content). As I was discussing how search was changing,from Google’s personalized search initiative to more and more people finding content through peer networks such as Digg, StumbleUpon, and Del.icio.us the question came up about how to manage these trends on an Enterprise level.

The very real concern is that the way we search and store information as well as the way we communicate is rapidly changing, but because of the perceived and sometimes real threats from these changes, many Enterprises have been very slow to adapt.

What is Enterprise 2.0?

Wikipedia defines Enterprise 2.0 as;

Enterprise social software, also known as Enterprise 2.0, is a term describing social software used in “enterprise” (business) contexts. It includes social and networked modifications to company intranets and other classic software platforms used by large companies to organize their communication. In contrast to traditional enterprise software, which imposes structure prior to use, this generation of software tends to encourage use prior to providing structure.

I would add that sometimes use of these tools are happening without encouragement.

A couple of months ago I wrote about How Social Media Became a Speeding Bullet. The basic premise was that social media entered into our lives and our daily communications without many of us even realizing what was going on. For the most part we did not have to pay for anything or buy new equipment to start participating, we just had to stumble across a site through the course of our Internet surfing and start participating.

A couple of weeks later I asked the question Is the Intrusion of Social Media in the Workplace Inevitable?

Considering more and more people are realizing the benefits of such tools as Wikis, Blogs, RSS, Chat and more, it would seem logical that they would want to utilize those tools in the workplace.

However, implementing the tools behind the firewall is not as easy as stumbling into social media as you surf the web. IT departments have some very real concerns about what those tools allow you and others to do. In the eyes of those responsible for protecting the company’s information, Enterprise 2.0 in the wrong hands can blow the information security walls down.

Two years ago the Enterprise Web 2.0 blog posted 10 questions and concerns on the minds of organizational leaders. Each question is still very valid today.

Technological Barriers

1. How can I be certain that the information that is gathered and shared behind the firewall stays behind the firewall?

2. How do I control who has access to particular levels of information and databases?

3. How do I protect the integrity of the information from malicious tampering by disgrunted employees or managers?

4. How can I be sure that information is being “tagged” properly for efficient retrieval later?

5. What kind of training do employees need before they can effectively use the technology?

Cultural Barriers

6. How can I monitor the system to make certain that what individuals are saying and sharing reflects company policy?

7. What are the legal dangers in saving and sharing so much loosely supervised input?

8. How do I distinguish “productive” use of the technology from horsing around?

9. How do I “manage” the gathering and disseminating of so much unstructured information?

10. How do I know if I’m getting my money’s worth out of the investment in technology?

I think the first hurdle is to find the champions of change to explore these questions with.

What I have found is that the biggest champion of change can be the Human Resource Executive, the Quality Officer, or the Head of Strategic Planning.

An Enterprise 2.0 strategy can be successful if the organization;

  1. Has buy-in from more than one department (ideally has executive buy-in).
  2. Has a recognized need to share information across multiple departments.

The benefits of a successful Enterprise 2.0 strategy include:

  1. Real-time stream of insight from internal and external sources.
  2. Consumer intelligence across departments
  3. The ability to quickly improve service or enhance products
  4. A consumer focused business process
  5. Appropriate allocation of personnel and resources
  6. Cross functional collaboration
  7. Insights into company culture
  8. Placing the right people in the right roles

How can these benefits help the bottom line? By helping each person in an organization respond to the needs of the marketplace and keeping employees on the frontlines of service.

Chris Heuer does a great job of explaining the importance of responding to the conversations happening in the external marketplace.

Social Media is not just about how an enterprise does its marketing, but how all the people in the enterprise talks with its market.

Yes there is an internal employee to external stakeholder communications path, but there is also a collaboration element added to this – a social sense of working together for common goals. To be really successful however requires more then proficiency with this one aspect of managing your organization. It also requires you to develop deeper expertise with your communications and collaborations process between employees; between employees and partners; and even in some cases between external stakeholders and other external stakeholders.

This includes marketing, customer support, product development, research, partner relationships, internal collaboration, information technology, and even facilities. There is no aspect of your organization that will go untouched. This is not some pie in the sky vision of a far off utopian future, this is what many people/consumers are clamoring for. Tired of being sold to ant talked at, advertising is less effective then ever before and efforts are underway to turn CRM upside down in favor of VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) .

This is not a novel idea. As more and more Enterprises are realizing and taking advantage of these benefits, the organizations that continue to live in fear may find that they will be left behind.

However the real challenges to the organization lies in the inability to create a effective Enterprise 2.0 strategy.

Challenges:

  • The absence of a major and visible crisis
  • Too many visible resources
  • Low overall performance standards
  • Organizational structures that focus employees on narrow functional goals
  • Internal measurement systems that focus on the wrong performance indexes
  • A lack of sufficient performance feedback from external sources
  • A kill-the-messenger of bad news, low-candor, low-confrontational culture
  • Human nature, with it’s capacity for denial, especially if people are already busy or stressed.

The best way for an Enterprise 2.0 advocate to create urgency is to show examples where;

  • Profits up but marketshare down
  • A new competitor is showing signs of becoming more aggressive
  • Opportunities through new technologies and a new market share
  • A new decision-making process is required because no one individual has the information needed to make all major decisions or the time and credibility needed to convince lots of people
  • A new decision-making process must be guided by a powerful coalition that can act as a team.

The advocate(s) needs to identify statements that say – this is how the world is changing, and here are compelling reasons why we should set these goals and pursue these initiatives to accomplish the goals.

A good vision statement acknowledges that sacrifices will be necessary but makes clear that these sacrifices will yield particular benefits and personal satisfactions that are far superior to change.

  • If the vision is made real, how will it affect the stakeholders?
  • For those who are satisfied today, will this keep them satisfied?
  • For those who are not entirely happy today, will this make them happier?
  • For those not involved now, will this attract them?
  • In a few years, will we be doing a better job than the competition?

Feasibility means that a vision is grounded in a clear and rational understanding of the organization, it’s market environment and competitive trends. This is where strategy plays an important role. Strategy provides both a logic and a first level of detail to show how a vision can be accomplished.

So, how do we overcome the fears of Enterprise 2.0?

  • Show that there is more to be afraid of if we ignore the emerging trends of Enterprise 2.0.
  • Identify Information silos within the organization that prevents collaboration
  • Identify vulnerabilities due to unauthorized use of social media.
  • Create strategic recommendations for implementing social media technology that meets the organization’s needs.
  • Create a cross-functional team to plan the merger of data across business units
    • The Coalition consists of:
      • formal titles and/or roles
      • information expertise
      • reputations and relationships
      • capacity for leadership
  • Set qualitative parameters for evaluating performance
    • create a catalogue of touch points for processes, information sources, data, and reporting for branding, channel types and key accounts.
  • Develop networks and an infrastructure for information sharing across functions and brands
  • Establish a “information intelligence”unit to ensure information is being integrated into real-time actionable solutions.
  • Technical Considerations including secure data, and a technology infrastructure, data-mining and analysis that can inter-operate with existing and future technologies.

Defined structure and purpose for the selected media

Develop recommended Guidelines to:

  1. Encourage Participation
    1. Communicate a sensible vision.
    2. Make structures compatible with the vision.
    3. Provide the needed training.
    4. Metrics that will influence employee performance reviews, development plans, and compensation.
    5. Short-term goals and milestones.
  2. Enforce/Modify HR Guidelines
  3. Protect the Organization’s Reputation
  4. Protect Intellectual Property
  5. Process for tracking internal organizational intelligence

From the Outside – In

  1. Track consumer conversations
  2. Identifying types of consumer analysis that will benefit various functional units and departments (identifying emerging issues and trends)
  3. Cross functional guidelines for listening to and responding to consumers.
  4. Data-warehousing and dashboard recommendations
  5. Opportunities for an open business model to collaborate with external partners.

Taking these long a drawn-out steps not only will ease the fears of Enterprise 2.0, but the will add a bit of structure in what seems like an unstructured new world.