Demystifying Enterprise 2.0 Failure : Forget the jargon and get to the fundamentals!

[Editorial Notes: This article is published under series called “Bring Your Own Insights”, where we bring selected guests to share their insights with audience on a regular basis.

We have always believed that our readers are amazingly insightful, so why not enable a channel for them to share their insights/experience with the audience? These guests will come from different industries and will share their insights on a very frequent basis. Presenting an insightful article written by Sumeet Anand, founder of Kreeo]

Many experts believe enterprise largely failed (except a handful) to apply or to maximize benefits from initiatives such as Knowledge Management, E-Learning, and Collaboration in 1.0 era by running behind features and rather blindly implementing software products. Many of these implementations took users and usage for granted and didn’t focus enough on utility, usability and adoption. The mistake is being repeated in 2.0 or the social era. enterprise_failure

Last couple of decades of enterprise IT adoptions was mostly about being swayed by jargons and new terms forced on us by technology vendors and analysts and less about creating advantage through intelligent application of technology. Today each player in every industry has the same ERP, CRM, SCM, BI & KM apps and same certifications for mature processes. But only a handful of them can claim to have created competitive advantage.

It’s high time we looked at IT initiatives holistically and focused on proper application and adoption by end users as prime.

Today, especially in case of Enterprise 2.0 or Emergent Social Software Platforms (ESSP, term coined by Andrew McAfee) we need to forget the jargon and:

  • think practical to look for solutions to business challenges,
  • have clarity on the desired outcome,
  • have good understanding of your culture/work style,
  • follow it as a journey and not one time implementation,
  • continuously evolve a solution while driving adoption.

We believe the implementation scenarios for Enterprise 2.0 must look at harnessing collective intelligence for not just incremental business benefit but also for competitive advantage. Two key outcomes to target should be productivity and innovation capability.

Go beyond jargons

Be aware of all jargons i.e. Enterprise 2.0, Social Computing, Micro Blogs, Wikis, Folksonomy, Semantic Web, Cloud Computing, Linked Data, Real Time Communication and so on and create your own understanding. In essence, they are about certain features (technical capability), behavior, and standards. Don’t think only in terms of either/or. Try to understand the overlap and relate it to your business context.

Right way to look at Enterprise 2.0

In order to adopt the new paradigm we need to come out of old and not so successful mind set of previous generation KM and apply common sense and scratch up thinking.

We would say, Enterprise 2.0 is about expression and management of knowledge, by sharing and organizing content in a collective paradigm, to:

  • reduce redundancy
  • improve relevance
  • reduce information overload
  • provide context driven intelligent information discovery

Get the fundamentals right

  • Knowledge is never in content/information its always in mind and thus managing it must focus on how to facilitate its creation for your people
  • Everyone has some knowledge, they might not be experts, we need to tap into this knowledge of the collective and enable harnessing the same
  • We need to look at means of increasing the productivity of knowledge and not just its quantity ( as in amount of info/docs captured)
  • Creation of knowledge is all about learning(the mechanism/process), so why treat e-learning, KM, collaboration etc. as separate silos

Apply common sense

Following conventional wisdom and a technology phenomenon blindly is easy; Most will do it and largely fail. It takes courage to question the conventional approach and attempt to define and go with a solution that is more aligned to your business needs.

When identifying your best fit solution, a simple common sense approach works:

  1. Challenge: Define your business challenge (e.g. high turnaround time, Poor efficiency)
  1. Outcome: Define what you wish to achieve (e.g. reduce cost by 30%, Improve productivity by 20%)
  1. Solution: Define what will be an ideal solution (e.g. helps people co edit, organize, and publish information in a collaborative manner in a certain process or business context.)
  1. Enabler: Evaluate options for technology enablement and choose what suits best, do a holistic evaluation and not focus on features alone.

Technology must be seen as an enabler and the right enabler must:

  1. be a lean technology with no legacy
  2. provide ability to interoperate; inside-out secure connect
  3. have low total cost of ownership (TCO);
  4. have good usability for better adoption
  5. allow to customize and evolve
  6. take minimum time to implement and rollout

Ask what a certain product can do for your business and don’t see each feature (wiki, blogs, forums, bookmarking, folksonomy etc) as separate silos. People are one, their needs are dependent, then why have a dozen different silo capabilities somehow integrated that kills usability.

Having said that, any technology solution that is dependent on people and is free form cannot be successful without proper change management, so spend more time understanding your people, their work practices, needs and preferences. Define a roadmap for transition/change keeping in mind all adoption challenges that you may face given your work culture.

[Image credit: catspyjamasnz/flickr]

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