Enterprise 2.0: Are we there yet?

It’s all very well telling my friends on facebook what I cooked for lunch yesterday, the information is available to all and may even be read by someone who is interested (thanks Mum!), however there are many constraints around sharing what I do at work. I work within a regulated industry which means there is strong governance protecting the privacy and confidentiality of things I work on, as well as commercial considerations impacting what I may be inadvertently sharing with competitors.

While there are significant hurdles to overcome, there are many examples of corporations applying web 2.0 principles to achieve strong commercial outcomes.

Queensland Rail has adopted enterprise 2.0 principles as they’ve implemented their social media strategy to engage with the public.

QR are putting place an open 2-way communication channel with commuters who identify issues, ask questions and debate new service changes initiatives. Someone about to catch their morning train to work will know if there are delays on the service as a result of other commuters tweets, as well as official updates from QR. This strategy has held fast even when this means the company is open to public criticism; which has meant they are gaining the benefits of applying web 2.0 principles to support their corporate strategy to build a stronger relationship with their communities.

Closer to home, I find one of the difficulties of working in an application development team in a large non-IT organisation is that software development work can happen in isolation leaving teams to create solutions and overcome challenges that may have already been tackled. This is inefficient and counterproductive and yet it is not easy to identify what existing work may be valuable for the team I work in. One of the leaders has come up with away to address this through adopting enterprise 2.0 principles by organising ‘Geekfest’, a 2-day showcase of work being done in development teams across the organisation.

Geekfest is adopting the principles (as described by Don Tapscott) :

  • Openness: The event is open to developers, business users, management and anyone who is interested in attending. The event is advertised, discussed and planned over Yammer and Sharepoint, these are corporate wide collaboration tools.
  • Peering: Each showcase is run by software developers aimed at their fellow engineers to share information. Much of the value comes from the hallway discussions during the event as well as from the more formal presentations.
  • Sharing: The content of each showcase is shared at the event and then re-used for focussed internal presentations, newsletter articles and joint development (fedex) days.
  • Acting Global: From an individual team member perspective we get a wider view of work going on in the organisation; so while this isn’t the same reach as Goldcorp’s 50 countries, within the constraints of protecting corporate information and security, it has a wide reach.

Some of the challenges to adoption as identified by Ross Dawson’s book on Implementing Enterprise 2.0 include Scale, IT security, Identity, Information loss, Auditability. The structure of the event address these challenges through disseminating content through a physical presence on site, that is, stalls and face-to-face discussions; and holding the event across multiple physical locations.

One of the key challenges faced by companies is justifying the investment in IT systems and cultural change to support the adoption of Enterprise 2.0. The very nature of Enterprise 2.0 is emergent outcomes, that is valuable outcomes that cannot be predicted in advance. Most companies are reluctant to invest in initiatives that they cannot be confident of an acceptable return on investment. Perhaps this is why Web 2.0 applications are leading the way, breaking down barriers to use and driving a cultural shift where individuals can see the benefits of collective intelligence. Enterprise 2.0 adoption is being built on an awareness of the benefits of web 2.0.

I always enjoy reading about a couple of mates building a web 2.0 platform that builds up a global userbase; I like to imagine I could do this and retire at an early age to the Amalfi coast. While researching case-studies for Enterprise 2.0 adoption I notice a common theme of executive level support driving this change, I wonder if we’re still to see technology and culture within corporations support the innovation driven by a couple of members of the community … or are the challenges just too great?


15 thoughts on “Enterprise 2.0: Are we there yet?

  1. I like the ‘Geekfest’ idea to showcase the development work to the organisation. I find that in a bigger organisation, every team is so focussed in their own workload that it is almost impossible to find someone within the organisation who knows a process end-to-end. However, all teams are interdependent where the changes they make will have an impact on another team. This is where Enterprise 2.0 comes in to break down the silos. Platforms such as wiki or sharepoint can be used to share departmental roles and information across the organisation. This helps the team better understand the organisation and how they fit into the big picture.

    On your last comment about changes driven by a few employees, I think it is going to be a challenge. Without management support, the work may be seen as ‘a waste of time’ and does not have a strong foundation. Soon it will lost traction especially with all the other work demands and priorities. However, it may be a different story if there is a strong support from the employees or customers community that created a business case for the change.

  2. Good Post Amanda.
    Regarding the investment companies have done in Enterprise 2.0 tools, I would say they are saving a lot of money. Actually, the companies don’t need much investment in training people in using E2.0 tools as a large amount of people have already had some experience with web 2.0 tools. Imagine the wiki for example, when a new employee is told he needs to produce documentation using wiki style, most probably the same employee has had some experience with some online took like wikipedia. Also, the companies don’t need to buy the tool, because most of them are available for free. In most cases they don’t need even host the server, as they can use the online version available (cloud concept). What do you think?

  3. Great post Amanda. I like the QR example most. It shows how widespread government organisations are using social media to communicate the kind of message like ‘we know we’re not perfect but we trying, and we could do with some help’. I think this is important to note as it begins to open up avenues for governance transparency.

    I too work in an organisation where information is tightly regulated. I find it frustrating, however I am happy to sense the shift in cultural norms and security of data.

    I also agree with Charles. The software for E2.0 is freely available and easy to host/establish in an organisation, especially if it is open sourced. This means that I.T. Naysayers focused on budget constraints should be fearful of saying no (http://www.cio.com.au/article/432101/9_most_endangered_species_it/).

    • Ollie. I liked the point in the article you attached about the Darwinism within IT. That’s an excellent comparison, and in the end of the day, that’s exactly what has been happening, IT tools evolute all the time, and in an incredible velocity. Are we adaptable enough to survive the evolution? This article explores some concepts such as adaptability and resilience (http://www.robertsoncooper.com/well-being-resources-hub/our-tools/resilience-portal/adaptability)

      • The cultural change, as you’ve both highlighted, is a significant but not insurmountable challenge. We’ve seen cultural changes of similar scale with the move from Ford’s “any colour as long as it’s black” manufacturing processes to companies emulating Toyotas TPS. And we’ve seen companies that have adapted and innovated as well as those left behind. However I don’t believe the technology available today provides sufficient features to have applied web 2.0 principles to their full potential. For example, I don’t believe the terms and conditions of dropbox will satisfy companies with highly valuable data such as pharmaceutical research organisations, I’m not convinced it addresses apra regulated financial companies with regards to protect customer data. There is still a gap in the market. Web 2.0 platforms like Yammer have shown that enterprises are willing to pay for these types of tools that also meet enterprise needs for ‘walled’ gardens. Perhaps I’m a dodo defending my patch as someone working in an inhouse development team? I can see that this type of work is increasingly unsustainable, yet there isn’t yet the range of mature enterprise 2.0 platforms available.

  4. Once again Amanda you continue to produce some really great work on your blogs. I envy how well your content flows and links together in such an articulate manner. I guess we all have the ability to retire at an early age and retreat to our favorite location, if we work hard enough. It is really interesting to see a local company using Enterprise 2.0 techniques in order to better the organisation as a whole. Geekfest sounds like a superb idea, keep up all the great posts, I enjoy reading your blog each week and dropping you a comment.

    • Hi Nicholas, it’s nice to be in a class with you again! Geekfest is a great idea, well executed, being driven by someone in the company willing to put in the energy to make it happen. When I’m feeling grumpy about work (usually after a day with too many meetings and not enough chocolate ;-), I find it really encouraging to be part of something like this. Thanks for the feedback!

  5. Hi Amanda. I think the example you gave of QR’s use of enterprise 2.0 applications clearly demonstrates how the organisation has utilised social media strategies to improve customer relations and satisfaction. In addition to security issues, which you have mentioned, I think another difficulty faced by businesses and organisations with the use of social media tools, is that the overarching view held by many people is that social media tools are for personal use, rather than for work-related purposes.

    • I agree with you Areej, that many people still think of(and use) social media for personal tool. Amanda has a good post demonstrate about the new shift in information sharing by QR and Geekfest. I wouldn’t want to go to work late because i didn’t know the train will be delayed. I really like the idea of information sharing because the information will be useful for other people and they will share their information back to you as well.


      Prapat W.

  6. Hello Amanda,
    Maybe I haven’t understand it well but I don’t understand how “the challenges to adoption as identified by Ross Dawson’s do not include anything about merely, the adoption BY the team of the new tools. For me, that’s one of the key challenge when speaking about implementing enterprise 2.0

    What do you think?

    • I agree, the cultural change is a key challenge to adopting enterprise 2.0 effectively and yet I think the challenges include more than people’s reluctance to adapt to such a shift. If I’m a pharmaceutical company I wouldn’t want my competitors to have access to my latest (very expensive) research that I hope to result in a new medicine that will pay for the r&d (security). As a consumer I’d want to know that my medicine’s manufacturer keeps complete records: if they have a faulty batch they can trace all the batch for a recall (no information loss). I think these and the other challenges he’s identified are non-trivial in certain enterprises. What makes it so hard in these industries is being able to challenge to concerns being raised within an organisation that arise from a resistance to adopting new practices as opposed to concerns that are valid issues that can negatively impact the organisation. I think its difficult to distinguish between the two when emergent outcomes by their very nature are difficult to predict in order to build a compelling case to address the concerns being raised. Difficult but I believe its worth doing because of the significan benefits that we’ve seen be achieved by companies such as Goldcorp.

      • Hey Amanda,
        I don’t think there is anyone arguing that there are other important business related challenges if you start transforming your company into an enterprise 2.0 however in my opinion these are never the hardest ones to overcome as there are so many different ways to embrace the paradigm shift that’s going on if you are willing to embrace change as a natural part of a business lifecycle. I mean you don’t have to (and certainly can not) revolutionize everything in every company but there is at least something that every company can learn from the web2.0 paradigm and that’s sadly often neglected because people are somehow change averse.
        I think that’s actually not only an issue for companies but for humanity as a whole. We could live in a so much better world if we would just try to embrace change and innovation (and the benefits it brings) instead of always trying to preserve the status quo! I know that’s a little bit off topic but I actually have some interesting papers on psychological research that actually suggests that people are indeed wired this way. In an experiment people in socially disadvantaged groups (i.e. black people in america) demonstrated implicit (or unintended) bias against their own group that could be harmful to them and can best be described by a desire to uphold the status quo in society. So I think this just demonstrates how difficult and important the management of change really is, even if you say you are open to change there are still implicit tendencies within ourselves that make us want to resist change!

      • Yes, I see your point and have to agree. And there is certainly a wealth of research that points to the cultural challenges to enterprise 2.0 adoption. I guess what I’ve been thinking through as I’ve constructed my response is my perception that there is a gap in the products available. So if we separate provision from acceptance then yes, most definitely acceptance is a considerable challenge. And yet I believe there’s still a way to go on the provision side of things. For example, dropbox is a fantastic product that I couldn’t do without. However it doesn’t work in an enterprise working in regulated industry. The alternatives for such companies seem to be application suites offered by the big vendors. Yammer has done this successfully, providing a pricing model for their product that encourages adoption within an enterprise and mitigates against the risks (closed network available to verified company email addresses). There still seem to be gaps in the offerings for enterprises such as a dropbox for companies that mitigates against the risks as well as something like yammer does for microblogging.

      • Hey Amanda,
        of course there are always things you can improve in services offered, etc. But I think that’s kind of an chicken or egg debate as you also need companies who are going to buy these services. I mean just look at your example of dropbox. There are many solutions out there you could use to adhere to the strictest security requirements if you were really looking/asking for it. To stay with your example: there are open source versions of dropbox like services you can set up on your own machine. Include end to end encryption (but you could also store these encrypted files on services like dropbox if you are not too paranoid) as well as a remote wipe capability (dropbox actually has a similar feature – 10 times passwd wrong deletes the local files) and you are good to go. So there are possibilites out there if you were looking for them.
        But yeah the e-commerce/internet/web 2.0 B2B market is certainly not oversaturated and if companies start wanting to embrace these new technologies this might be a good area to invest in 😉
        Cheers, Alex!

  7. Hi Amanda,

    Nice post. It’s great that you were able to use an example from your own organization for Enterprise 2.0 adoption. Also, as a regular QR patron, I love that QR and some other Queensland organizations (such as the Queensland Police Service) have taken on Enterprise 2.0. Being able to simply log in with my smart phone allows me to instantly see if there are any big issues with the transport system makes it much easier for me to plan alternate routes in the event that something has happened.


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