E 2.0: Are We There Yet?

How exactly has Enterprise 2.0 changed our world? Proposing an idea to a colleague or even to your boss and coming up against different perspectives and real-time powwowing has never been easier.

What’s that?

Andrew Mcafee describes Enterprise 2.0 as “the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers”.   The incorporation of Web 2.0 technologies within enterprise operations has strengthened collaboration and team-building through social contact, ultimately enhancing organizational effectiveness on the whole within the workplace.

Et tu, social?

Enterprise organizations have turned to social media to build a common platform for employees to communicate, share knowledge, promote innovation and collaboration.

Apps such as Yammer, Chatter , MangoApps serve as inter-departmental/intra-organizational sounding boards, with stakeholders encouraged to express opinions and share ideas. In a McKinsey survey about the use of Web 2.0 in the enterprise, 77% of respondents reported an increasing speed of access to knowledge, while 52% reported an increasing speed of access to internal experts.

Not only are these platforms secure behind corporate firewalls, they promote corporate objectives and boost collaborative effort.

How’s that working for you?

A common platform enables tapping into collective knowledge, or the “wisdom of crowds”.  It also supports expertise location, trend identification, sentiment analysis.

A feature of incorporating Enterprise 2.0 into business operations is flattening organizations into those characterized by informal groups formed by facilitators or evangelists or catalysts, as opposed to corporate structures led by designated managers.

This would ultimately cut down on management overhead, and expectedly the costs involved therein. This also facilitates tacit transfer of knowledge and on a real-time basis leading to quicker and shorter decision cycles, due to shorter and broader communication links resulting in more frequent signal/ feedback. The adoption of enterprise social networking is also expected to cut down on email, and news about email abandonment by businesses is already trickling in, as this recent news about Atos.

Pitfalls and Pitstops

However, the endorsement of enterprise 2.0 technologies will not be without its own share of detriments.

Chief among these are widespread adoption of enterprise social networking platforms, integration with existing enterprise systems, the ever-so-wide technology gap between social media tools and enterprise software etc.

Employees may not exhibit the same level of enthusiasm or acceptance to social platforms to fulfill corporate objectives. As such, the propagation of innovative ideas may vary greatly, within the enterprise. There is also an absence of standards and guidelines for the use /application of information within or accrued from these tools and a lack of ability to embrace new technologies by top management or employees. Another crucial factor would be the organizational structure— E 2.0 would be implemented and leveraged better in flatter and open structures vis-à-vis hierarchical and siloed ones.

Where do go from here?

What is essentially required for true effectiveness and implementation of E 2.0 is the restructuring of organizations into more transparent, relatively layer-free formations with smaller, autonomous units (starfish, as opposed to spiders).

Organizations are expected to undergo intrinsic transformation with respect to power grouping, process flow, resource distribution, and endorsement of more synergistic cultures.

Special interest groups cutting across ranks and departments would need promotion; with stakeholders feeling more involved, personal interest will beget participation. Summarily, what is mandated is a change in approach/mindset and conventional business management methods.


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