Is the Enterprise Web 2.0-ready?

I just left a comment on Nicholas Carr’s blog suggesting we need to ask if the enterprise was web 2.0 ready and not the other way around. I was reading an article on stagnant intranets by Shel Holtz in Webpronews. He says :

Most companies are struggling to retain a command-and-control structure for their intranets. Tools that put control into employees’ hands are antithetical to intranets where only authorized representatives of the company can contribute content.”

This is at the heart of the problem. It is almost meaningless to ask “Is Web 2.0 enterprise-ready?” – Ask “Is the Enterprise Web 2.0-ready?”. Are enterprises ready to let go of control where it is not necessary? Do managers see the implications of a participatory web within an enterprise? If they don’t, the IT guys would have a huge problem sometime soon. Many of your employees may already be using Writely, Basecamp, Campfire etc., because unlike enterprise KM systems that focus obsessively on Organizational Knowledge, these lightweight tools helps people get things done. They put the individual at the center – not the enterprise. If you think you can accrue value to the enterprise first and the individual next-you are doomed to fail. Benefits to the organization from managing knowledge will be a side effect of individual’s actions – and that is what social software enables.

I agree with what Lynda says in the Centrality Journal : “What grassroots means in this context is providing people with something so compelling they use it and spread it on their own instead of corporate managers “change managing” it down people’s throats. It’s exactly what is happening with instant messaging, Skype and the like, and it is the opposite of the top-down approach that failed so spectacularly with many CRM installations.”

Just to add my two cents to this: With grassroots adoption models there is still a change challenge. But fortunately, with word-of-mouth, change manages itself.

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