From a technology perspective, Enterprise 2.0 is essentially a lot easier to implement than previous enterprise information management systems. The applications are lightweight and can thus be piloted initially by smaller groups and don't have to be introduced right away to the whole organization. However, the shift from Enterprise 1.0 to Enterprise 2.0 is not only about the technology, but also essentially about changing the culture of the organization, which makes the implementation process considerably more complex. Of course technology does play an important role in the transformation, but ultimately it is just the means, not the purpose. All organizational changes revolve around people - they need to be part of it, not just stand by and wonder what's going on. In addition, when talking about fully implementing Enterprise 2.0, the list of stakeholders possibly touched by the process grows a lot longer: i.a. customers, partners and competitors need to be taken into consideration.
As AIIM Research, "Enterprise 2.0 - Agile, Emergent & Integrated" (available at AIIM.org), notes, the ease with which Enterprise 2.0 technologies can be deployed is a "double-edged sword". On one hand it is a major strength, driving the adoption and use of the technology in organizations, but on the other hand, "this agility and speed of deployment allows many to embark on implementations without fully understanding the more strategic nature of these technologies." To be able to reap as much business benefit from E 2.0 as possible, companies need to approach the implementation process from a strategic perspective. The transition needs to be seen as a long-term investment, and thus, cannot be taken lightly. The deployment should start from roots of the organization, aligning the practices and tools with its strategy and visions.
This section concentrates on the different factors and issues that should be considered by the management before embarking on the implementation of E 2.0. The section relies heavily on the AIIM Research mentioned before, and I highly recommend to explore the study in more detail, if you feel like something essential was missing here (and even if you didn't).
How to measure Enterprise 2.0 success?
When approaching the implementation process of Enterprise 2.0 from a strategic perspective, management has to assign certain goals that the new business models aim to fulfill. This leads to some difficulties, as the potential business benefits related to E 2.0, such as collective intelligence, emergence, collaboration, communication and social networking, are 'somewhat' abstract and thus, extremely hard to measure. In addition, the benefits are generally not only viewed as vast, but also highly situational. Thereby, one of the major reasons for the skepticism around Enterprise 2.0 derives from the fact, that there isn't a really good way of measuring the ROI (Return on Investment), the solid business profits, of the applications.
However, the AIIM Research concludes, that despite the skepticism and lack of rock-solid measures to go by, Enterprise 2.0 has gained substantial, although highly scattered momentum in the business world:
In the short time since the term Enterprise 2.0 was coined in 2006, it has achieved significant attention from the business and technology communities. As introduced in Section 3 (of the study), 44% of survey respondents indicated that Enterprise 2.0 is significant or imperative to business success. More importantly, only 30% indicated that Enterprise 2.0 has little to no impact on business success. Indeed, Enterprise 2.0 has been at least discussed by 73% of the surveyed organizations.
On the other hand, as introduced in Section 4, much of the current Enterprise 2.0 activity is characterized as rogue usage, non-strategic in nature. Only 33% of polled organizations are starting to form a targeted Enterprise 2.0 strategy and just 5% reported enterprise-wide usage of Enterprise 2.0 technologies and techniques. There is an appreciation for how Enterprise 2.0 will (tactically) be critical to success, but little understanding of how it can be leveraged strategically across the enterprise. Most organizations are not addressing Enterprise 2.0 in a deliberate manner, (which leads to the chasm between perceived critical need and the level of understanding).
Nearly half (45%) of the surveyed organizations are predominately deploying Enterprise 2.0 technologies in an ad hoc manner. Only 26% of the companies are taking a mostly or exclusively strategic approach. The low-barrier, low-cost nature of Enterprise 2.0 acts as a double-edged sword. Users and groups of users can readily deploy the associated technologies and achieve some level of benefit. This potentially enables an organization to learn through experience. But the results may be siloed both in terms of participants and technologies. If the value from Enterprise 2.0 is to be maximized, and leveraged as a bona-fide enterprise resource, there needs to be an educated and calculated alignment of technology, processes, and business goals. As the research showed, this has not yet happened in the majority of organizations.
Strategic approaches to Enterprise 2.0 should also recognize and take into consideration community attitudes, current practices/experiences, and corporate culture. This is what makes Enterprise 2.0 expand from a series of technologies into a business system. Initially, an organization may choose to experiment with Enterprise 2.0 as part of an education, or to leverage its low-barrier nature to quickly solve some immediate points of pain or need. While one strength of Enterprise 2.0 is the fact that it allows specific technologies to be user-driven in an ad hoc, low-barrier manner, it behooves the organization to take a strategic approach to the technical and cultural side of Enterprise 2.0.
The end result of taking a centralized strategic view to Enterprise 2.0 is not just a well thought out strategy, but a much clearer appreciation for how the investment in Enterprise 2.0 can be leveraged across the organization.
The AIIM Study divides the strategic evaluation of the organization into three specific aspects: Objectives, Technology and Culture. These aspects and their points of intersection are examined closer in their own sections:
As said earlier, there isn't a "patented" solution for measuring Enterprise 2.0 success. However, this doesn't mean that the success wasn't visible. Indicators that can be observed to measure the benefits might include for example the decrease of email use (See: Lost in E-Mail, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast - NY Times, 2008-06-14), length and frequency of meetings, social network analyses or simply personnel satisfaction to the tools being used (search, data storing etc.).
AIIM Research lists other possibilities for the management to measure the success of the implementation:
Strategically, Enterprise 2.0 could be linked to the rate of product sales, product innovation/new product production, customer satisfaction and value derived from intellectual property, for example, but only if specifically targeted at that, and in a way that could demonstrate the specific cause and effect.
Instances in which the benefits are directly aligned with Knowledge Management goals and objectives also represent a vast array of possibilities. For example, "success" could be measured in the volume of content / knowledge captured over time, the rate of commentary, the volume of participants, the speed of developing new ideas / teams, the level of participants (roles), the level of participation, and diversity of community. Such calibrations, however, typically do not have a hard dollar value associated with them. Associating a value with these metrics requires an agreement on their worth, or establishing a connection between these and a subsequent event (e.g., the strategic goals listed above).
A good way for the management to begin the assessment of possible measurements for success might be to start from the basics and ask "What are we actually trying to achieve? What are the current problems we are targeting? What are the concrete (business) benefits we are striving for?". Each of these questions may be considered concentrating on a distinct tool ( e.g. Wikis] or Blogs), or trying to see the whole process as a whole. After narrowing down the lists to the most critical points, it may be enlightening to go through the present indicators and gauges, and consider whether they could be applied to the Enterprise 2.0 implementation as well. It is essential to be able to create functioning measurements, be it previous indicators reused or completely new ones, to be able to show some concrete benefits of the transformation. Early evidence of success boost the transition, as employees realize that there might actually be some tangible and realistic gains involved with the new ways of working.
It is extremely crucial to get people to see that the change is beneficial to themselves, not just the business. Wall Street Journal, for example, recently published an article on why online communities fail. The article quotes a study (conducted by Deloitte) on 100 companies that have attempted to build online communities, concluding that there are three key areas of concern for these implementations:
- Too strong focus on technology - people need a real reason to be a part of the community
- No full time employee engagement or subject matter expertise involved
- No ROI or other metrics used to measure the success or progress of the initiative.
The same points apply to Enterprise 2.0 implementations as well. People must not have the impression that this new way of working will only end up creating more work for them, instead of making their work easier and more efficient. As Alexander Wilms notes in his blog post, The Trouble With Web 2.0:
Psychology and economics teach us that there is no such thing as altruism - whatever people do will create a personal return of value for them. This personal value is measured by individual criteria. Respect and prestige, personal reputation, political beliefs or desires, and of course monetary incentives influence the decision as to whether their contribution creates this value. (...) The value of contributing must be higher than doing something else.
In a corporate environment this might be different as a different set of values becomes dominant. Company vision, goals, or instructions will be added on top of the personal value criteria, together with given priorities changing the decision of what creates value. Of course one big driver for such decisions is the need for an employee to be externally "chargeable", a typical situation in the consultancy business. If a consultant has to decide whether he spends his time generating direct revenue for the company (and therefore for himself) by working for a client; or having to explain to his supervisor why he chose to improve the internal knowledge base instead he or she will opt for the first alternative. As long as contribution is regarded as less important topic in the corporate hierarchy the priority of knowledge initiatives will go down over time simply because people start to value other things as more important.
So contribution is rational for people if there is a reward. But there is another rationale for people, especially in large organizations. Cooperation within the Web communities is mainly driven by non-monetary values as the contributors don't receive any money for their input. These communities are networks of specialists who rely on each others knowledge. Investing time to create and contribute knowledge will pay off here because there is no direct competition and other people's knowledge might help you tomorrow. (...) Corporate projects that focus on providing Web 2.0 technologies alone will fail if the companies do not change their rewarding schemes and knowledge management processes. Such projects will need to rethink incentives for participators and to create the time slots necessary for people to contribute. If the corporation wants the genuine benefit from Web 2.0 then they must not underestimate the effort it takes to produce it.
So, publishing content, e.g. writing a blog post or editing a wiki article, must be seen as something valuable, not just a waste of time, even though it might not be directly related to the 'real' work itself. This involves a change of culture and opinions related to work, and the change has to be backed up by the management. And again, organizational change should never be seen as abstract art, with no clear goals or metrics involved. Never stop measuring.
Two additional points that cannot be emphasized enough:
- Find the real problems and the real solutions for them.
- Don't trumpet Enterprise 2.0, but instead talk about those real problems and solutions.
- When you find and solve a problem, talk about it not in terms of Enterprise 2.0, but in terms of an agile, low-cost approach. This makes a lot more sense to most people.
Enterprise 2.0 is more likely if...
Harvard professor Andrew McAfee divides the most important things related to Enterprise 2.0 success into three areas: "aspects of the technologies deployed, support for the deployment initiative itself, and the culture of the deploying company." In his blog he presents a list of the most important factors that a company should focus on in the implementation. The bold points are things that McAfee sees as especially important to get right, the italics denote denote difficulty, namely the aspects that seem to be particularly hard to accomplish. So, Enterprise 2.0 is more likely if...
- Tools are intuitive and easy to use
- Tools are egalitarian and freeform
- Borders seem appropriate to users
- At least some of the tools are explicitly social
- The tool set is quickly standardized
Support for the Initiative
- Incentives exist, and are soft
- Excellent gardeners exist
- Patient and dedicated evangelists exist
- Energy and activity are primarily bottom-up
- Effort has official and unofficial support from the top
- Goals are clear and well-explained
- People are trusted
- Slack exists in the workweek
- Helpfulness has been the norm
- *Top management supports lateralization
- There are lots of young people
- There is pent-up demand for better information sharing
Does Enterprise 2.0 implementation require championing?
Does the Enterprise 2.0 initiative need a leader, a champion who knows all the ins and outs of the technologies and phenomena, and leads the company through the storm? AIIM research at least states the following:
It may be argued that Enterprise 2.0 does not require championing, as it is about group participation, collective intelligence, and the emergence of wisdom from these interactions. That would lead one to believe that Enterprise 2.0 "flattens" the organization, all participants are equal, and will participate through self-motivation.
Experience with Enterprise 2.0 seems to indicate otherwise. A resounding majority (84%), of respondents from organizations that have implemented Enterprise 2.0 to some degree, indicated that it is necessary (i.e., a best practice), to have an Enterprise 2.0 champion or leader.
Whether this is past history and experience reasserting itself is speculation at this time. Traditional technology solutions have tended to require champions and, specifically, executive support to overcome organizational inertia and a tendency to resist change. These same solutions, however, have tended to be complex and expensive and driven by a "business-first" rather than "user-first" mindset.
Just as Lean Thinking has changed the mindset of manufacturers from a mass-production to a mass-customization world, and from "push it on the market" to a demand-driven (pull) model, Enterprise 2.0 should (if done well) lead to a similar pull from the users (employees, partners, etc.) to demand greater levels of access and participation rather than being forced to use systems that seem to only add to their work levels instead of enhancing their professional capabilities. While some organizations may have realized this promise, it would seem the vast majority of respondents believe that that time has not yet come to pass in their own organization.
This is likely related to the need for individuals to believe that their participation in Enterprise 2.0 is aligned to and supported by enterprise goals, objectives, and reward systems. In fact, our research did find that a corporate culture that is Knowledge Management-inclined has a very strong and positive impact on the rate of adoption and success with Enterprise 2.0
Some more specific advice
The advice given in this section have been somewhat general, as it is nearly impossible to give specific advice to the "average company" operating in "Industry X". However, here are a couple of tricks the management may consider to use when aiming to successfully implement Enterprise 2.0 tools and practices.
- Allow people to set aside some time for their own projects or networking (see Serena Software press release)
- The Intranet should not be all-work-and-no-play
- Encouraging employees to for example plan a social event in the corporate intranet (wiki / blog) promotes the adoption of the new tools
- Promote a vision of the intranet as an education and training environment
- Encourage a culture of emergence. The software should be seen as freeform and optional, but the adoption might initially call for some gentle 'pushes'
- Think of ways to require people to add to the emergence of the environment. For example, insist on all certain types of documents to be stored in the company wiki, to be reviewed, linked to and commented by peers.
- It's important to accept all types of data (videos, flash-animations, slideshows etc.)
- Make the enterprise network as easily navigable as possible and thus promoting emergence
- For more specific advice, related especially to corporate wiki adoption, see Advice on Wiki Adoption.
- Enterprise 2.0 Strategy - Culture
- Enterprise 2.0 Strategy - Objectives
- Enterprise 2.0 Strategy - Technology
- Enterprise 2.0
- Enterprise 2.0 - Benefits
- Enterprise 2.0 - Risks
- Enterprise of the Future
- Web 2.0 & Enterprise 2.0 - Enhancing collaboration with social software
- Advice on Wiki Adoption
- Why Most Online Communities Fail - Wall Street Journal (July 16, 2008)
- The Trouble With Web 2.0 - Alexander Wilms
- Lost in E-Mail, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast - NY Times, (June 14, 2008)
- The Never Complete Guide to ESS - Virtually all Enterprise Social Software vendors listed and described (Gray, Reid, Honick)