Sidebar | The Organization As Media Entity
Enterprise 2.0 is about making that mass participation valuable
Increasingly, the best way to understand how any organization works is to think of it as a media entity, says Ross Dawson CEO, Advanced Human Technologies and Chairman, Future Exploration Network Advanced Human Technologies. Organizations create messages and information, take inputs from external media sources, and edit and publish content in an increasing diversity of formats, with e-mail and the intranet often predominant. Their employees are typical media consumers (and creators), deluged by choice, and often ineffective at cutting through with their own communication. As such, the current state of the media industry offers many lessons for organizations seeking to be more effective and productive.
Dawson says it's important for CIOs trying to come to terms with Enterprise 2.0 to realize it is less about a collection of new technologies and much more about shifting organizations into the next phase of work.
"The big picture is that organizations are collections of people, each with their own expertise and knowledge who come together to create value, and now that the new emergence of these technologies creates a whole new structure potentially for how people's talents are brought together inside of organizations, it really should be thought of from the perspective of how is the organization being transformed, or how could it be transformed to be more effective in creating value," he says.
The CIO's focus needs to be on the breadth of what is happening across the organization, not in the individual implementations. The value of blogging is not in the individual blogs, as much as in what collectively those blogs do to be able to make information more accessible, to be able to enhance working structures and practices in order to be able to facilitate the search and flow of information. That means the organization needs an architectural view in terms of how these essentially participatory bits of technologies are to be aggregated into things that will be of value to the organization.
And since one of the key challenges for the organization remains ensuring knowledge workers have access to the right information at the right time; it is vital that search functionality is incorporated from the start, rather than an afterthought. Dawson has devised the following key guides for CIOs:
1. It is about the architecture. Introducing individual and small group collaboration tools such as blogs, wikis, and virtual worlds can be useful for those who use them. However there is far more value to be gained from creating an architecture whereby activities across the enterprise are aggregated to create higher levels of value.
2. Capture inputs. Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 are founded on people's inputs, so these must be captured in both explicit (opinions) and implicit (behaviours) forms. People should readily be able to contribute in any way including tagging, rating, social bookmarking and beyond, and the information captured in such a way that it can be applied within the enterprise architecture (see point one), particularly noting people's profiles, roles, and current activities.
3. Create relevance. Generic search is very limiting. People should be presented with information that is relevant to them and what they are doing. This is made possible by the profile-type information mentioned in point two. Unless you design information systems to make their outputs personally relevant, worker effectiveness will be constrained.
4. Establish guidelines. Guidelines need to be created on a number of fronts. The immediate issues include how employees use public social networks, open blogs and external applications that may have security risks. Beyond that, privacy is becoming a fundamental issue, where employees need to have complete clarity on what information is and isn't captured and how it is used.
5. Enable do-it-yourself applications. The future is in having knowledge workers almost never having to put in a request to IT again, but instead being able to address almost all of their information issues by recombining data and applications available inside and outside the organization to create the results that are useful to them.
6. Experiment! There are no answers yet. Despite the increasing number of case studies of organizations that are successfully using social media and Enterprise 2.0 tools, we are very far from having final answers or three-step plans for success. Every organization is different, the technology landscape is rapidly evolving, and companies must work out for themselves how the most value will be created. However not participating is not really an option. That is a choice for limiting organizational effectiveness and productivity, while competitors move ahead. The harder - yet more exciting, fun, and rewarding - path of implementing Enterprise 2.0 is becoming an imperative.
- S BUSHELL
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