Enterprise 2.0 – Giving the Hype a Second Thought

A complex set of robust processes and structures govern the contributions to Linux. While everyone is free to contribute to Linux, a central team decides which contributions to accept and which to reject. Command and control structures do exist even in the Linux world. There are layers of users with varying degrees of rights, privileges and accountability.

Takeaway: Organizations need to understand that the Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 are different animals even though both may utilize similar underlying components and plumbing, the environments and the context in which they are implemented are very different.

Organizational Culture

The real obstacle to Enterprise 2.0 may very well be the corporate culture existing within the organization.Cultural resistance is something real and can determine the success of failure of any initiative.Organizations need to reflect on this in great depth: Is the organization heavily controlled and a top down driven organization? Is open communication the practiced norm? Are there existing social structures available for employees to express themselves? Etc.

Organizations need to be aware that adoption of Enterprise 2.0 tools and platforms will be quite challenging as most of the Enterprise 2.0 toolset is based on the user-driven, self-fulfillment, self-expression, social-needs premise and any amount of forced usage is not likely to yield results. In the Internet world, people join communities out of their own choice. Individuals decide the terms, means, frequency and scope of their interactions. Relationships in the Internet world are usually informal and based on voluntary participation.

For an organization to be successful in leveraging Enterprise 2.0, it has to recognize, understand and appeal to the multiple personas, intelligences and personalities that employees have. The organization has to touch the social, individual, collective, emotional and cognitive chords within its employees to be able to make any fruitful use of the Enterprise 2.0 platforms.

Takeaway: The cultural readiness of an organization will go a long way in determining the success of Enterprise 2.0 initiative.

Usage Context

As I just stated, in the Internet world, Web 2.0 is driven by an individual’s personal context meaning that the usage is determined by an individual’s interests, passion, needs and convenience. In an organizational scenario, the usage of Enterprise2.0 platform and tools would be driven and governed by a work related context. Therefore, organizations need to identify this context. For example, making a blogging platform available for everyone to use for whatever purpose they deem fit is a surefire recipe for disaster.

Organizations also need to realize that Web 2.0 tools within the organization, without a properly identified business usage context, will not transform the enterprise, flatten the hierarchy, create an open communication culture or make the organization democratic. Enterprise 2.0 can make the organization more agile, responsive and efficient, however, organizations need to identify the business context first and then make use of Enterprise 2.0 toolsets to address that business context, rather than the other way round.

Takeaway: “Build it and they will come” may not work in an organization. Identify the business usage context to leverage the promise of Web 2.0 within the enterprise.