There are a broad range of areas that could potentially benefit from
Enterprise 2.0. While there are a host of platforms that enable all of
these – social software holds the potential to affect many of these
Next Gen Knowledge Ecosystems – Driven by collaboration
Grand KM initiatives that speak about balanced score card alignment
while ignoring personal and group productivity have failed over and
over again. While enterprises continue to sink money into enterprise KM
systems, employees continue to flock towards tools that help them and
their peers get work done – tools like Google Docs, Basecamp,Meebo,
Zoho etc., Social software would play a key role in any enterprise
knowledge ecosystem. You would not want to bet against the internet,
but at the same time you don’t want corporate content on third party
servers – or maybe thats the way forward. CKOs need to deliver
collaborative knowledge ecosystems that work – something that is at
least as good as what employees use in the internet. Incumbent players
are innovating fast with loads of “social features” : MOSS 2007, Lotus QuickR & Connections and BEA Aqualogic’s Pages and Pathways.
CKOs/CIOs need to be looking at upgrading to these newer platforms to
catalyze collaboration. There are other options as well : Standalone
wiki platforms like Socialtext or a bundled offering like SuiteTwo
. I believe that it is important not to fall in love with “enterprise
knowledge” which would force you to devise a complex taxonomy and then
you end up building a highly scalable,robust, secure, out-of-the-world
KM system that no one uses. Focus on individual and group productivity
and capture interactions seamlessly and create conditions for knowledge
to flow across groups. Let value accrue bottom-up. Enterprise knowledge
will emerge from the interactions happening in the informal social nets in your organization.
Being able to collaborate in the context of a specific task one is
doing is extremely crucial in many cases. People would not want to
switch between multiple applications to get things done. For instance,
a claims processor may need instant access to a distributed group of
experts to handle an exception – While he continues to work in his
primary application, he may have access to IM, presence, his social
network and perhaps to blogs & wikis. The idea is to bring down the
coordination costs of managing exceptions to processes. How quickly can
the claims processor locate the expert, what tools do they have to
collaborate seamlessly [ IM, shared whiteboards etc.,], what tools do
they have to archive these conversations for future reference – some
mechanism to move these conversations onto perhaps a wiki for rest of
the claims processors community to access.
Collaboration across value chain
What role can social software play in improving collaboration with
partners, suppliers and other external entities? Enterprise 2.0 will
set the stage for cross-company collaboration through loosely coupled
systems. Federated IM, co-development with partners and wikis are the
first few applications that are becoming mainstream.
Collaborative Learning Platforms
Typical enterprise e-learning platforms are mere content
repositories.While I don’t argue the need for such a system,
enterprises need to explore the possibilities that social software can
bring to learning. If you could augment your formal e-learning program
with peer-peer learning by encouraging communities and creating
connections, there could be new efficiencies. Social software has a key role to play in this space.
Search is one of the key dimensions in Andrew McAfee’s SLATES model.
Once enterprises have basic search infrastructure in place, they may
want to explore social search. Key players in this space are BEA Aqualogic Pathway , Connectbeam [ See case study here ] and Cogenz . IBM claims that the Omnifind Enterprise Edition supports social search. Social bookmarking and social search are related and are being used interchangeably at times.
Tools like Twitter which allow SMS based notifications can help small teams to work effectively. A host of other tools like ZapTxt and Rasasa
that can notify people when some thing of interest happens in their
information ecosystem could have enterprise applications. For instance,
I may want to be notified of important project updates via my mobile –
because it is urgent and important. Whereas I may choose to be notified
via email or IM if something is important but not urgent. While these
are not typical MoSoSo
apps, as social networks mature within enterprises, there is a
possibility for consumer internet style MoSoSo apps to make their way
into the enterprise.
Collaborative Software Development (CSD) Platforms
If your software development teams are sitting in multiple
locations, there may be a need to improve developer collaboration. The
challenge is to preserve all the tacit interactions that happen around
formally defined processes. Platforms like CollabNet and Jazz
can help here. In an ideal CSD platform, developers should be able to
collaborate across the application lifecycle from requirements to
deployment – essentially they would have a Collaborative ALM layer.
There could be multiple needs for a CSD platform in an enterprise –
typical among them are software reuse and leaner and more agile
Dion Hinchcliffe has written a great piece on this.
Usability & RIA
Many enterprises are attacking this first – This seems to be a
relatively low risk entry into Enterprise 2.0 – Typical enterprise apps
have UIs that suck. With all the innovation that is happening in the
RIA space there is a great opportunity to create UIs that look good.
However, it is still possible to have rich but unusable interfaces. It
may make sense to bootstrap a usability review of your existing systems
as you start your RIA journey.
Web 2.0/SOA Alignment
Application modernization goes beyond rich UIs and would address a
host of issues like rationalizing the number of screens in your legacy
app, inter-widget communication etc., Application modernization
initiatives also give the opportunity to assess if contextual
collaboration makes sense. Companies like JackBe and Nexaweb offer interesting stuff in this space.
Platforms like Dell’s IdeaStorm
will increasingly become important internally and externally as the
case may be. Companies need to look at such co-creation platforms that
will allow them to harness the collective intelligence of their
customers. They need to explore new ways of leveraging distributed
conversations happening in the internet about their brands in blogs and
sites like Mouthshut & Team-bhp ( in India) . There are a host of challenges that co-creation brings in and this is true across industries:
- How do enterprises augment BI/CRM with distributed conversations? What are the buzz analytics tools they would need?
- Do they start communities or do they nurture existing communities?
- Where in the value chain do they need to engage with customer communities?
Understanding that “markets are conversations” is the first step. To
be able to make sense of it and act on it is a different challenge all
together. So enterprises would need to address two key elements :
- The extended conversation platform itself and
- A mechanism to make sense out of the chatter