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24 August 2008

The trouble with Enterprise 2.0





It's not the technology that is the problem with adoption and implementation of enterprise 2.0, rather is the people, culture and habits we have built up in the workplace.

For years we have imposed technology on the enterprise from the top down with little dialogue and engagement with the populace who will consume that technology.

At the same time a real revolution has occurred at the grass roots of our organisations in terms of user developed applications. These applications were developed in Excel or MS Access to service localised business needs that were unmet by the top down enterprise technology.

There is a huge gulf between these two worlds - enterprise applications and user developed applications. Web 2.0 has given users even more ability to develop their own localised solutions and apply them in the workplace. It is also changing the expectations of users about the kind of applications they are willing to use and how they engage with them. Enterprises are now starting to see the potential business benefits of adopting web 2.0 technology.

The trouble is that the people who implement enterprise systems are used to doing so in a particular way. That way of implementing systems is all about order, control and structure. But this is antithetical the entire web 2.0 ethos and to the expectations that have grown up in the grass roots users.

Thus the risk is that enterprise 2.0 will be pushed out merely as top down applications without effective engagement of the user community. We already know that this is a bad way to implement applications, but it is traditional. The risk is that we will make the same mistakes with enterprise 2.0 and that it makes even less sense to implement this in our traditional top down way.

It's time to change the way we design and implement enterprise applications in general and enterprise 2.0 in particular. This is because enterprise 2.0 is about sharing, collaboration, co-creation, and engagement. Without these elements the technology underlying enterprise 2.0 will become just a bunch of unused applications.

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

1 comment:

Paul Ricketts said...

Kate

I always enjoy reading your articles and this one is no exception!

End-User Change management has long been a focus of mine - for many years I worked as a consultant to some of the largest organisations in the world and when implementing any 'enterprise' solution - getting buy-in from the actual users presented itself as the biggest single challenge. In recent years, it has been a surprise that so many organisations will regard end-users with little or no regard and it is this reason why we see so many large projects 'fail' - typically because of lack of adoption.

A great example of a successful solution has to be Qantas with their eQ project. User-consultation was conducted at every stage and whilst there may have been a few minor issues with some of the functionality - adoption and acceptance is high.

With Enterprise 2.0 - three main environments need to be addressed:

1. Internal only - where users only exist behind the firewall and no information or access is provided externally.

2. Inside-Out - where information is managed primarily behind the firewall but access provided to external users.

3. Outside-In - where information is collaborative and representative of most peoples perception of E2.0.

In all three environments, there are end-users involved and providing the right type of interface and functionality is key. Where external users are involved, you of course cannot address everybodies needs and requirements so you make the best guess of what is acceptable - basically following a perceived 80/20 rule.

An adoption of open standards when looking at the solution architecture is a good first step to take. Not tying the solution to a particular vendors brand of technology help prevent lack of flexibility or mobility in the solution. Providing the ability to easily integrate existing or future systems is a great second step. Finally, selecting a vendor or set of technologies that provide a complete suite will make all the difference to the success of the solution. It is no surprise that the strategy appealing to most CIO's today follows the same acronym - Complete, Integrated and Open.

Organisations providing rich E2.0 environments internally and externally successfully are embracing the C.I.O. strategy - this is the very basis of the internet from its inception - providing ready access to information in an easy-to-use manner.

Paul
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