The trouble with Enterprise 2.0

It’s not the technology that is the problem with adoption and implementation of enterprise 2.0, rather is the people, culture and habits we have built up in the workplace.

For years we have imposed technology on the enterprise from the top down with little dialogue and engagement with the populace who will consume that technology.

At the same time a real revolution has occurred at the grass roots of our organisations in terms of user developed applications. These applications were developed in Excel or MS Access to service localised business needs that were unmet by the top down enterprise technology.

There is a huge gulf between these two worlds – enterprise applications and user developed applications. Web 2.0 has given users even more ability to develop their own localised solutions and apply them in the workplace. It is also changing the expectations of users about the kind of applications they are willing to use and how they engage with them. Enterprises are now starting to see the potential business benefits of adopting web 2.0 technology.

The trouble is that the people who implement enterprise systems are used to doing so in a particular way. That way of implementing systems is all about order, control and structure. But this is antithetical the entire web 2.0 ethos and to the expectations that have grown up in the grass roots users.

Thus the risk is that enterprise 2.0 will be pushed out merely as top down applications without effective engagement of the user community. We already know that this is a bad way to implement applications, but it is traditional. The risk is that we will make the same mistakes with enterprise 2.0 and that it makes even less sense to implement this in our traditional top down way.

It’s time to change the way we design and implement enterprise applications in general and enterprise 2.0 in particular. This is because enterprise 2.0 is about sharing, collaboration, co-creation, and engagement. Without these elements the technology underlying enterprise 2.0 will become just a bunch of unused applications.

Twitter Sydney Meetup @STUB #pubtrivia

Another fun event with some of the @STUB (Sydney Twitter Underground Brigade) crowd.

Suspect division into teams on gender lines led to spectacular EPIC fail where both teams got zero points.

Nevertheless can recommend the Wednesday night trivia at the Marlborough Hotel (aka the Marly) in Newtown. The place has been gentrified like much of Newtown and the quiz mistress is very good (cruel but fair).

[Photos courtesy of @misswired]

Twitter for Business on the Scoop

Chatting with Mark Jones, Paul McKeon and Frank Eliason on The Scoop podcast this morning about corporate Twitter. It was fun to talk with these folks and have a chance to think about Twitter in a corporate context.

Frank described Twitter as “instant messaging gone mad”, which is a pretty good summary. Based on that description, the interesting thing to consider is how Twitter is actually used.

Twitter seems to blur the personal and professional – and this fits with the whole generation-V social networking meme. In my experience Twitter provides a platform for communication and community and it is being used in a number of ways:

  • organising social events IRL
  • various kinds of help – technical support, moral support, therapy, etc.
  • connections and networking – need to find someone who knows something Twitter people can help
  • banter and fluff – a bit like the water cooler conversations in the office
  • information gathering – feedback about new products or suppliers, temperature checks or what people are thinking
  • conversations – from the frivolous to the serious and thought provoking
  • relationships – real people communicating and getting to know other people

All of this adds up to Twitter as a communication and community platform more than anything else.

Given the nature of Twitter as a communication and community platform how can businesses use this platform? The answer is simple, they can use it to build relationships and have dialogue with customers and other stakeholders. This is precisely what companies like Comcast and Zappos are doing. The important element for companies is to get in early and stake out the territory for their brands and start up the dialogue so as to avoid brandjacking.

Friday Drinks with FITSBAD (Silicon Beach Australia)

Finally some regular IRL activity around the web start up community in Sydney is getting traction with initiatives like FITSBAD (aka Friday Information Technology Silicon Beach Australia Drinks).

Generally FITSBAD folks can be found gathering somewhere at the Shelbourne Hotel (usually on level 2) in Sydney CBD from 5.00 pm each Friday.

More info about this can be found on the Silicon Beach Australia group on Google.

(Photo: from Big Mick)

Enterprise 2.0 is Innovation

Spoke at the Enterprise 2.0 for Information Professionals conference in North Sydney yesterday – my slides are on slideshare – and was grateful for the opportunity to consider enterprise 2.0 adoption. Some really good questions from the floor (HT: @chieftech, @innotecture, @kdelarue) about how it relates to innovation prompted some further insights on my part.

The entire process of adopting enterprise 2.0 is an innovation activity. It is about driving new ways of interacting between people and with new technology. It is about using this technology to enable new connections and to deepen collaborative capabilities within and beyond the organisation.

Thus the implementation of enterprise 2.0 would be prey to all of the challenges of innovation. This means that change management, stakeholder management and project management skills must all be employed to enable adoption within the organisation. Fun stuff!

Westin Sydney customer service totally rocks!

Stopped by for a breather and to recharge my laptop battery today at the Sydney Westin Hotel. There was no place available for me sit, have a refreshing beverage and also to charge my laptop. So the staff relocated a small table to an unused corner next to a power outlet and delivered my beverage there. This is the kind of customer service that really makes you feel good. I feel like the people here really care about their customers and are willing to go the extra mile. Nice to see customer service like this! It is already one of my favourite places in Sydney, but they’ve really reinforced my good feelings.

IT Project Management IS rocket science!

For years I’ve been telling people that delivering successful IT projects is not ‘rocket science’. After all we’ve got a huge body of past experience to learn from, we’ve even got a Project Management Body of Knowledge! But still we see projects failing for reasons that get enumerated and dissected post hoc (often in this very blog).

But now it is time to admit that I was wrong. Clearly delivering successful IT projects is like rocket science, and it is time we acknowledged that it is hard to do successfully.

The recent 2006 Chaos Report from The Standish Group shows that 19 percent of development projects were outright failures, compared with 31.1 percent in 1994. This is not much of an improvement over 12 years, rather it is an embarrassment with approximately 1 in 5 projects failing. It tells me that we are completely wrong headed in saying that IT project management is easy and if everyone just followed the rules all would be well.

What we actually need to do is to admit that IT projects are hard, complicated and prone to failure. They are, in fact, just like rocket science and we need to put our best and brightest to work on them. We need to ensure that everyone working on projects is actually trained to work on projects, acknowledging that it is not a place for the gifted amateur.

Nobody would put untrained people to work on building rockets to send to the moon, only trained rocket scientists are welcome on those kind of projects. We need to become just as focused on getting people with the correct skills on IT projects. The skills development even needs to be pushed out to business owners of projects so that they understand the basic science of projects, and why certain things have to be done at certain times.

It is time for the entire industry to stop playing around and wasting huge amounts of organisational resources and capital on unsuccessful IT projects. It is time to apply discipline and skill to the delivery of IT projects. No longer should it be the preserve of the gifted amateurs within the organisation. Instead, we need to spread the word that delivering successful IT projects is exactly like rocket science and that it needs appropriately skilled and trained resources to apply the body of knowledge.

Enterprise 2.0 for Information Professionals Conference 13-14 Aug 08 Sydney

Busy week – will be speaking at the Enterprise 2.0 for Information Professionals Conference in Sydney on Thursday 14th Aug on topic of stakeholders and enterprise 2.0 adoption. It has been very interesting to think about this issue again.

It becomes increasingly apparent that adoption of web 2.0 technologies within the enterprise is moving forward quite quickly. Some of the real challenges relate to integration of this technology with the existing enterprise systems (or not depending upon the strategic needs of the organisation).