Five years ago, I published a long article explaining the basis of Enterprise 2.0. Back in 2007, Facebook and Twitter where only startups (literally!) and Web 2.0 was still a trending topic. We are now in 2012, and social is the new norm in the digital workspace. As the “Enterprise 2.0” term is becoming more and more irrelevant, social software implementation is still a work in progress. The main reason social software’s adoption is so slow is because of the ever-changing landscape of tools and practices.

What are Enterprise 1.0′s problems?

Since the systematic rolling out of personal computers to office workers in the 90′s, mid and large scale organizations had to face ever-growing dysfunctions:

  • Slow-moving information
  •  Data glued to spreadsheets adn PPTs
  • Knowledge trapped into silos
  • Long and rigid decision flows and processess…

to make a long story short: One revolutionary, Email and Microsoft‘s Office are todays white-collar workers’ curse. Moreover, working habits based on individualism are amplifying the waste of time and energy.

What are Enterprise 2.0′s problems?

Social software was supposed to be the solution to these dysfunctions, but as collaborative practices and habits diversified themselves, the situation became even more complex with:

  • Growing number of communication channels and feeds (RSS, Skype, Twitter…) ;
  • Spread conversations and knowledge through various internal (Wikis, ESN…) and external platforms (Quora, StackOverflow…) ;
  • Anarchic use of hosted services (Dropbox, Doodle, Asana…) ;
  • Short-term vision social software integration tactics, which didn’t corelated with internal culture or business-critical vertical applications…

Social softwares where a miracle cure which everybody wanted to believe in. Only now, we begin to understand the importance of no-IT related parameters like internal culture, HR, ego… This being said, the main part of the integration / adoption job is still to be done, moreover in a Social Businesscontext.

A broader vision of Enterprise 2.0

I reckon the fact that “Enterpise 2.0″ is definitely a tacky term. Nevertheless, you can call it differently (i.e. social intranet), but we are still dealing with the same challenges:

  • Allowing employees to develop collaborative practices with colleagues, as well as clients, partners and contractors
  • Making information, data and applications available through employees’ computers (office and home), tablet or smartphone
  • Connecting social software with enterprise-class services like storage or search
  • Integrated processes relying on legacy IT systems as well as cloud-based applications and social softwares…

I tried to sum-up these challenges into this diagram:

Three key success factors

Do not expect from me a miraculous formula to make this happen, because it is only an idealistic vision of what your organization should aim. Their are many ways to achieve this paradigm, but I assume you will lake time AND ressources. Plannification and prioritization are your two best allies in this journey.

There are countless blogs and books about Enterprise 2.0 and social software, and this article does not pretend to bring a better vision to the situation. Thus, I can nevertheless focus on three key success factors:

  • Adoption. Nobody likes to change their tools or habits, thus, the fear of change will be the first barrier to fight. In order to smooth the adoption process, I recommend you to provide collaborators with  conversation digests and ready-to-use collaborative patterns ;
  • Governance. Stimulation and regulation are the two faces of change management. As collaboration can take various forms in a large-scale and distributed organization, it is crucial to empower the middle-management in order to stimulate (toward late-adopters) and to regulate (toward first movers), in order to avoid chaos.
  • Cloud computing. You probably have heard hundred of time that collaboration is not about tools, but in the end, you still have tools to implement. This is where cloud-based offers and services will definitely ease the integration process, by centralizing profiles, documents, data, information and knowledge in the cloud. Not only this will allow upcoming IT systems to be integrated in a matter of days (not years), but it will also vastly ease nomad access from tablets or smartphones.

I have been reading, writing and being involved in Enterprise 2.0 topics and projects for more then five years, and the more I try to abstract IT-related issues, the more it became clear to me that the next collaboration paradigm will be linked to a renew workstation. When you think about it, how can we change our collaboration patterns and working habits with the same tools (screen + keyboard + mouse) and softwares (Windows + Office)? Sure, Enterprise2.0 is not about tools, but the vast majority of knowledge workers won’t have the pulse without a new working environment.

You can call it as you wish (Desktop-as-a-ServiceSocial Desktop…), but the knowledge workers’ revolution will come from a renewed workstation, and it will live in the cloud, whether it is public, private or hybrid.

Source: Forbes

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