Taking Collaboration to the Next Level

Ovum Butler Group have just produced an interesting free paper on ‘Collaboration 2.0’ which includes a detailed and accurate analysis of IBM’s offerings in this area.  Download it from here, registration required.

I particularly like the last couple of paragraphs of the paper:

IBM’s Enterprise 2.0 solution offerings are among the most mature and sophisticated on the market, and although some products are more developed than others, IBM generally has all aspects of this market covered. Compared to other offerings on the market, IBM’s solutions are better integrated and more capable.

IBM’s information worker strategy has lacked cohesion and direction in recent years, but the company is now back on track with a strong portfolio of products. After losing customer mind share and confidence during the middle part of the decade, IBM is starting to regain momentum and impetus. Although not yet fully developed, IBM’s online services look set to offer organisations a real alternative to on-premise applications, and in so doing will provide strong competition for Microsoft’s dominant position in the enterprise market.

Well worth a read…

Jon Mell

Trust and change

Jon MellJon Mell comments on the cultural and organisational change required to truly embrace Enterprise2.0:

[Enterprise 2.0] will require more and more “knowledge workers” – people who don’t follow an administrative business process to do their jobs but rely on their experiences, professionalism and networks to add value to their organisations – or, as recently described by Thomas A Stewart,  ”someone who gets to decide what he does each morning..”

Organisations need to trust these professionals, they will not be in the office from 9-5 every day. These are exactly the sorts of people who thrive on their personal networks, they are the people who you go to when you need to know what’s going on. Social software brings the same level of productivity increases for these people as type-writers and then word processors did for a previous generation of workers. It takes their natural propensity to connect, to share, to add value and extends it in the same way the internet extends our access to information.

It won’t be enough to hire knowledge workers to survive and thrive in this recession. Organisations will have to change their business practices to take advantage of their abilities, and provide them with the tools to be effective. Word, Outlook and even Sharepoint won’t cut it. They will need custom built social platforms, or products such as Confluence, Jive, Socialtext and Lotus Connections.

This is not a technology driven change. These tools are a response to a new way of organising and operating companies, breaking free from 1950s management theory and production lines to treating people as individuals who get things done by independently and autonomously adding value through their networks. Organisations need to embrace the business change first, and look at the software second. Otherwise the competition will gain a significant competitive edge, whilst you’re worrying about the ROI of the investment in the latest “it’s like Facebook, but…” product

Absolutely spot on, Jon.  That’s why no Enterprise2.0 toolset (including Lotus Connections) is a drop-in technology that on its own with radically change an organisation’s knowledge sharing and/or working practices.  Cultural change must go hand-in-hand with the right tools in order to transform the organisation into one that is truly collaborative in nature.

In presentations, I often quote from a University of Toronto paper that describes the characteristics of a collaborative organisation:

A collaborative organisation is one that has the following characteristics:

  • The values and objectives of employees and management are aligned,
  • A climate of mutual trust and respect exists,
  • The knowledge of all the staff, customers and suppliers is shared and pooled to optimize the organisation’s operations and opportunities,
  • Decision making is more decentralised than it is in most current organisations and more stakeholders in the organisation play a role in defining the direction in which the organization moves, and
  • Hierarchical structures are kept to a minimum. The company is managed democratically by consensus rather than by command and control.

As you can appreciate, whilst Enterprise2.0 tools will undeniably assist with aspects of the list above (particularly the pooling of knowledge and decision-making), real in-depth and sustained analysis of the organisation’s culture, business practices and leadership will be required in order to make any of these desired characteristics into reality.

What is “Enterprise2.0”?

Is anyone else struggling with this?

The term “Enterprise2.0” is being thrown with abandon just recently, with everyone from analysts through vendors to the print media starting to adopt the term.  Well what does it really mean?

I’ve done some searching to try to come up with a definition I can use with my customers, and these seem to be the most coherent:

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers. Andrew McAfee, Harvard Business School, May 27, 2006

Enterprise 2.0 is the synergy of a new set of technologies, development models and delivery methods that are used to develop business software and deliver it to users.
M.R. Rangaswami, Sand Hill Group, Sep 01, 2006

The paradigm-shift from content-focused architectures to user-centric models.  Web 2.0 and how its exploding consumer-oriented applications are relevant for the enterprise.

Nic Brisbourne, www.theequitykicker.com, Dec 21, 2006

However, all of these definitions are fairly vague, effectively just saying that it is the application of Web2.0 in the corporate environment.   Not terribly useful when talking to customers.

That’s why this quote from an IBM presentation I attended last week stood out:

Enterprise2.0 is…

A de-formalization of the workplace

        which harvests collective intelligence & the wisdom of crowds

by encouraging adoption through personal value,

connecting people to ideas, communities, work, and other people, across physical and organizational boundaries

            and uncovering tacit knowledge, attitudes, and actions.

I think this definition (delivered by Brendan Tutt) really specifies what Enterprise2.0 will mean for both organisations as a whole, and for their end users.  There is no doubt that this will spring up in just a few of my presentations in the future!