Web 2.0 Turns The Enterprise Inside Out

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A couple of good examples emerged from the Churchill Club session yesterday on “Succeeding with Web 2.0 within the Enterprise”:

  • Serena Software is using Facebook as their corporate intranet and it now seems to be morphing into a sort of extranet. To overcome adoption challenges among its employee base, most of whom are ages 45 and over, Serena brought in a bunch of 16-year olds for Facebook Fridays. Serena’s SVP Marketing Rene Bonvanie claims 90% of employees are now using it. The primary benefit seems to be increased collaboration. Bonvanie says this makes it easy for both employees as well as customers to identify the right person for a specific question. Conversations have become more open and imbued with better knowledge. Thus, marketing and sales are losing some of their monopoly power as touch points with the outside world. In addition, knowing more about your previously face-less co-workers may also help increase a sense of common purpose at the workplace, states Bonvanie
  • Best Buy’s Steve Bendt shared how their internally-focused ‘Blue Shirt Nation’ network helps generate recommendations that can increase store sales. Giving this online market place of ideas the look and feel of ESPN and online games was key to creating adoption among Best Buy’s young workforce, where turnover of 60% per year is the norm
  • Paul Pedrazzi from Oracle shared how it’s internally-focused Oracle Connect and externally-focused Oracle Mix social networks do a great job of filtering content. One use case for Mix – once the traffic picks up more – is prioritizing customer needs and feature request prioritization. A common challenge is that product managers tend to overweigh feedback that is recent, local or comes from the largest customers – those who can afford to send their folks to Oracle’s executive briefing centers
  • Shiv Singh from Avenue A / Razorfish shared how their own internal wiki, now used by 75% of employees, aims to increase internal information sharing. There is no silver bullet for overcoming employees’ tendency to ‘keep information close to their chests to impress their boss’. As you would expect, measures that can drive the right behavior range from executive sponsorship to making sharing fun to incorporating collaboration in the informal and formal reward and recognition systems

There was consensus that the 2 most commonly cited objections are not show stoppers in practice:

  • How to deal with confidentiality and privacy? Relying on employee common sense and good intentions may be good enough for most situations. In general, people are smart enough today not to send out sensitive information over email or snail mail, not to leave reports on planes or the subway, not to dress in offending ways, not to burst into the CEO’s office for no good reason, etc. So with just a little bit of induction into the online world, why would you expect a different outcome? Best Buy cited that only 3 of 50,000 internal posts were offensive and had to be removed – pretty impressive given that their employee base tends to be rather young. Bonvanie says “97% of our information is destined for broad consumption, so open networks like facebook are a great distribution platform”. I would imagine that in time someone comes up for a compliance solution similar to what happened in email to ensure the remaining 3% does not leak accidentally
  • How to make these solutions enterprise-ready? For internally hosted solutions such as Oracle Mix and Connect, ensuring security, availability, performance and compliance (e.g., with HR discrimination concerns) tends not to be a big issue. For externally hosted ones, that can be an issue. Serena’s Bonvanie again: “Facebook could pull any feature that we find really useful and there’s nothing we can do about that.” Personally, I predict we’ll see the emergence of white label enterprise class alternatives soon, similar to what happened with instant messaging (not that I know many folks who use those compliant solutions)

Could these 4 rather simple, early examples of ‘web 2.0 gone enterprise’ point the way towards more open, collaborative, connected value chains?

PS – I suspect the video from the session will shortly be available here….

http://www.uberpulse.com/

and the audio here…

http://churchillclub.org/podcasts.jsp

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