Corporate uses of Web 2.0 technologies

Andrew McAfee provides another short insightful roundup on corporate uses of web 2.0 technologies like blogs, wikis, RSS, tagging, social bookmarking etc. In short, use them e.g. for:

  • collaborative production of documents (and meaning, understanding, commitment as I would add)
  • build a corporate encyclopedia, a “Wikipedia” for corporate data
  • as all-purpose teamware
  • a mega-adaptive ‘war room’ for fast-changing situations
  • spreading knowledge … and searching widely
  • ‘crowdsourcing,’ i.e. leveraging emergence by farming out tasks to a distributed crowd of people who decide individually and flexibly on what they want to work on

Information technology and productivity

In the NYT, this report claiming that computers (can) give big boosts to productivity.

Money spent on computing technology delivers gains in worker productivity that are three to five times those of other investments, according to a study being published today.

Well, the study (pdf) was initiated by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, which is in turn supported by companies like IBM and Cisco, so this outcome should come as no surprise.

Anyway, an interesting approach, even when this calls for more profound research, e.g. to differentiate between the different kinds and sources of these productivity gains. And I have no doubt that Peter Drucker’s famous aphorism (and the challenges it poses) are not really met …

“To make knowledge work productive will be the great management task of this century, just as to make manual work productive was the great management task of the last century.”

Peter Drucker, cited again

Beyond Enterprise 2.0

Just found: Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee are interviewed in the latest edition of the MIT Sloan Management Review. “Beyond Enterprise 2.0” in a section which looks promising as well: The Future of the Web. Best of all – it’s available as a free pdf.

Nearly all businesses today are critically dependent on the Web for their everyday functioning, so it is important to stay attuned to its continuing evolution, innovation and challenges. In this special report, a variety of noted experts explore a wide range of topics pivotal to the Web’s future, from e-commerce to collaboration tools to some of the Web’s unsettling vulnerabilities.

[Crossposting into the BMID-blog]

Wikipatterns, success factors and consulting

There’s another interesting article in the BusinessWeek feature on wikis in the enterprise, called “No Rest for the Wiki“, where short examples of corporate wikis, like e.g. Intels Intelpedia, are introduced.

Worthy to note is that these enterprise wikis started out as small maverick projects by enthusiastic proponents and evangelists, who attracted followers and traction by “word of mouth” and “giving good example”.

This resonates well with Wikipatterns, an initiative by Atlassian, makers of enterprise wiki Confluence. Wikipatterns collects and organizes common patterns and anti-patterns of wiki adoption in the enterprise. It supports wiki evangelists and wiki consultants alike, because the patterns are both generally applicable and because they help in focusing change management efforts and attention in implementation efforts. While we all know that motivating employees to contribute is an old question of people management and organizational management, wikis and other social software are putting up both new opportunities and new problems.

This is an interesting work area for social software consultants, because when companies don’t have the time (and organizational slack) to experiment, when internal wiki proponents have no (promotion and decision) power, and when manpower is lacking they can leverage their specialized knowledge and expertise.

Indeed, as a consultant my main job is in explaining to companies the hows and whys of wikis and their effective use in the enterprise, i.e. proposing adoption paths, planning implementation projects and helping to upstart and trigger wiki adoption. So guidelines, best practices and systematic sets of success factors help in the “selling” of wikis to firms, again both by internal proponents and by external consultants like me when called in to consult on wiki projects.

Moreover, I think that both bottom-up, grass-roots and management sponsored projects can profit from the collected wikipatterns. And as more and more collaboration initiatives are leaving “skunkworks-state” it becomes yet more important to know how to engage those willing to participate and those who hesitate. Again, implementation efforts that target broad internal adoption need a powerful set of tools.

But this is not all. Social software consulting in my mind also entails helping companies to embrace the collaborative nature of web 2.0, so that they can take advantage of what it offers. Hence it becomes clear that social software consultants must master a wider vision of wikis and social software, Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 alike. Consultants must also reach across the fields of organizational change management, organizational design and strategy, because wiki usage is both happening in contexts and designed for tasks that are defined by organizational strategy. So creating the right environment for wikis is not restricted to some kind of change management and wiki uptaking coaching, but needs to understand and use principles, methods and tools of strategy-level consulting when due.

Let me give you just one example: strategies like Open Innovation and Mass Collaboration, where wikis and other social software can be used to facilitate collaboration. Consulting in this space may (and will) touch social software aspects, but the groundwork and basics are of an organizational (and strategic) nature. Lucky me, I am not a one-trick wiki pony, see some other areas of expertise.

IBM ShortCuts Podcast on being a wiki evangelist

On time with the BusinessWeek feature on wikis in the enterprise IBM’s ShortCuts Podcast has another take with Luis Suarez, who offers tips on becoming a wiki evangelist (remember this picture of another evangelist …). Here’s the mp3.

What are some key factors in supporting and nurturing a wiki? How does one launch a socially collborative web experience and keep it from failing? In this episode, Shortcuts knowledge management expert Luis Suarez offers tips on becoming a wiki evangelist.

Enterprise 2.0 is not about technologies, and not about wikis alone

What makes this BusinessWeek wiki feature outstanding is that it doesn’t restrict its approach on the technology.

Too often, people talk about social software in techno-gabberish, while we know that the main tasks are organization related and have more to do with change management, implementation and persuading people, i.e. finding promotors, followers, early adopters.

Supporting fitting organizational structures, through supportive management and coaching, maybe even rewards and benefit systems (I am no friend of this approach, yet, it has its merits), was not really discussed, but one could feel these issues lurking in the background in most articles.