Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Enterprise 2.0 Lessons from Dion Hinchcliffe

Dion Hinchcliffe write about the State of Enterprise 2.0 in a very nice post. Here, he talks about two things. To quote:

The big question for many of those on the fence now is: 1) Do we now have the right capabilities in terms of ready Enterprise 2.0 products? And 2) Do we generally understand how to apply them properly to obtain good returns on our investment in them? Knowing the answers to both questions will almost certainly tell us if we’re ready for mainstream adoption of adoption of Enterprise 2.0 any time soon.

If we look at this, there are two questions ... one around the technology, and one around the people. With respect to technology, its quite simple to say that technology, while leading the transformation of organizations, is, in a way, also slowing it down. There are times when you find so many things which you would like to see in your social computing kit, but they are not there. To be fair, since this is early days, I would expect technology to scale up to this quite soon, and more so because by its very nature, social computing is about getting the non-experts to take it up. Bottomline, this is the simpler piece to address.

The second piece, the people, is slightly trickier. While on the surface, it can be expected that adoption would be quite robust, that doesnt seem to happen in a lot of organizations. In some instances, its because of technology restrictions, but in most others, it seems to be inertia. Couple with this the fact that social computing is bound to ruffle more than a few feathers, this is an interesting thing to handle. I have written about this here, and here. Building on from there, the larger "democratization" of work would lead to changing structures in the organization. In other words, social computing is getting people at all levels of the organizations collaborating, and has the potential of turning everyone into thought leaders. Not exactly, but somewhat ... Fact is, there are organizations that celebrate this. These are organizations which realize the fact that path-breaking innovation could come from anywhere. And, that process improvement is also something which anyone, anywhere, at any level of the organization can drive. This is an important lesson, and one which needs to be leveraged for organizations, if they would like to see breakthrough growth going forward.

In addition to this, the lessons Dion writes about are quite interesting, too ... One important point he makes is that people would need to be made aware, or trained in the use of social computing tools. This, at a level seems counter-intuitive, but the fact is, in a lot of organizations, you end up having scenarios where people look at these tools as yet another thing that is thrown at them, which is not really going to add value to them. And therein lies the problem. Social computing, to my mind, rests on one basic word ... Participation. And, if we look at it this way ... Participation doesnt happen till people see value, and by its basic definition, social computing doesnt generate value for people without participation. And, this, to my mind, is going to be the cycle that organizations will have to break, in order to generate greater adoption. There is also the important aspect that social computing is not the all in all. In other words, its not that social computing is going to be the last word on computing. There are going to be a lot of applications, which would remain, whether they be your ERP implementation, or whether it be your Supply Chain software. However, these would merge at some point, though it remains to be seen how. SAP is already working on this. And of course, I couldnt agree more with Dion when he says ...

Enterprise 2.0 is more a state of mind than a product you can purchase.

Considering that this is about the people more than the technology, this is the bottomline which needs to be kept in mind.

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