Canberra-based knowledge economy and social computing evangelist Stephen Collins heard a quote earlier this year that perfectly describes the Enterprise 2.0 dilemma: "If you want to find out what tools your staff are finding most useful at the moment, just go and see what your IT department is blocking."
All too true, and not nearly as funny as it sounds at first glance, Collins declares. With Australia apparently several steps behind the US and Europe in Enterprise 2.0/Web 2.0/social media uptake, and corporate efforts at adoption thwarted by lack of real understanding, Collins is frustrated, calling this blocking attitude "frankly criminal".
"I'd love to get in the ear of some CIOs and CTOs and get them to understand that implementations of Enterprise 2.0/Web 2.0 tools aren't about the technology," Collins says. "These tools provide an easy-to-use platform for staff, clients and other stakeholders to engage with each other, to share information and collaborate. Failing to allow staff to do their jobs properly with the best tools can cost a big company millions of dollars.
"Too many organizations choose to block what they don't understand - it makes their environments easier to control. But what might the benefit be of truly understanding social media tools and allowing their use accompanied by a strong and appropriate proper use policy?"
Using Enterprise 2.0/Web 2.0 technologies is really all about enablement. Any C-level executive or line manager who fails to enable their organization's staff to do the best job they can, with the best tools they can, should probably spend a few heated hours in front of the board answering for their actions, he says.
And, with many of these tools being effectively free, Enterprise 2.0 is not hard to deliver. Major organizations that have had measurable financial and knowledge management gains through use of social media tools include SAP, IBM, Deloitte, KPMG, British Telecom and Morgan Stanley - none of them lightweights.
But they seemingly remain the exceptions to the rule.
"The biggest challenge is the lack of a cohesive 2.0 strategy, which serves to confuse users, stall adoption and make 2.0 technologies tough to manage," says Eli Weir, CTO of Seattle-based Visible Technologies. "How helpful is it to replace overstuffed e-mail inboxes with a confusing jumble of wikis, blogs and RSS feeds . . . with no measurable action taking place? The same problem exists in the marketing and service arenas, with now yet another layer of complexity for the enterprise to deal with."
A few months ago an online survey of IT leaders by Gartner found only one in seven organizations have a Web 2.0 strategy prepared, and few are ready for or are executing on Web 2.0. Gartner found few organizations knew how or where to begin determining the implications of Web 2.0. "These organizations are in for a rude awakening because we expect Web 2.0 to pose a greater threat to enterprises than the Web of the dotcom era," Gartner says.
"Given the importance and the potential impact of Web 2.0, we can only conclude that the absence of strategy stems from an inability to determine the implications for the organization's business models, Web presence, customers and employees. Organizations must increase their Web 2.0 awareness and capabilities now to prepare for the storm of innovation to come."
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