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Enterprise 2.0 - What is it good for?

Enterprise 2.0 - What is it good for?

A 12-step guide to getting the most out of Web 2.0 tools and making it safe-for-purpose

11.Use It to Fix Enterprise Search

When most employees in any reasonably sized company find it easier to discover information on the Internet than to discover it internally within their organization, enterprise search is broken, says Mark Scrimshire, Senior Consulting Partner with Washington-based Hinchcliffe & Company. Seeking ways to address this challenge immediately brings into focus the differences between traditional IT and a Web 2.0 world.

The old style approach is to set up a team to review all the documents that you might want to make available to users, vet those documents and load them into a document management system. "Stop and think on this for a minute," Scrimshire says. "Does the Internet work this way? Of course it doesn't. If you want to change things you need to implement a search appliance and set it off to discover the gems of content that are buried in the deepest reaches of your intranet."

The big difference between intranet search and Internet search is that on the intranet there may be security controls that need to be recognized and adhered to. On the Internet everything is open.

"I have a suspicion that on many intranets there is a reliance on security by obscurity," Scrimshire says. "People have to know where information is kept. Enterprise search blows that wide open. The benefit for the vast majority of users is enormous but this is likely to throw many a security team into a wild spin. The problem is not insurmountable. Google and other search appliances will work with an organization's LDAP, Active Directory or other popular security schemes to comply with internal security controls.

"In my view, achieving Enterprise 2.0 starts with getting enterprise search working, and then gradually extending a common search dialogue box across all search services. A search engine, often Google, is the first stop for many people when looking for information on the Internet. Why should a company's intranet be any different?"

12.Accept That Good Governance Reduces Exposure

Enterprise 2.0 has become a board level topic for good reason, Sheard says. Without strong governance the organization is potentially exposed, so the framework within which all of this fits is vitally important. The CEO and chairman of an organization have to take an interest in the way that this technology is being used and where it fits, ensuring risks aren't being introduced into the organization inadvertently.

"If the board and the executive management stand for driving innovation in the business and a greater level of intimacy with their customers and their suppliers, if they're driving for shareholder protection of assets . . . if all of these things are high on their agenda then ultimately, this comes down to technology investments and the underpinning governance and plan by which those investments are made and protected, not just over the short term, but over the long term. That's a difficult thing to do when technology and the environment changes so quickly."

Sheard says he sees signs many CIOs and CXOs are prepared to take these technologies on board internally and run limited trials with groups that could be termed early adopters. Hunt out a group in the organization that is predisposed to show leadership in driving innovation to run the trial through to either a successful conclusion or else the point where it is clear the technology isn't going to work. Once that limited trial is proven you can start examining ways to scale it both within the organization and externally; exploring its usefulness in engaging suppliers to drive a closer and stickier relationship, for instance, and in extending the technology to other external stakeholders like customers.

The challenge is to do it fast, before the next evolution of technology starts to bite. "I wouldn't be a CIO for all the money in the world," Sheard says.

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