Sunday, 18 February 2007

Breaking down silos

There has been a good bit of banter about Enterprise 2.0 going on between Andrew McAfee and Euan Semple that is worth following.

Most recently McAfee commented:

"what’s the real problem if some E2.0 environments are mutually inaccesible walled gardens?... The only honest answer is that we don’t really know yet, and maybe this kind of technology Balkanization will turn out to be no big deal within enterprises.  But I can think of two reasons why it might be a problem, or at least sub-optimal."

He then goes on to looks at impact of these walled gardens on emergence and what he calls, broadcast search.

This reminds me of a comment I made a while ago challenging the ease of implementing blogging, at a technology level, into a corporate environment. I have actually seen this happen in practice, where a blogging platform was introduced built using one technology that was completely inaccessible from the rest of the corporate IT environment, other than visiting the site with a Web-browser. I think it is still a big assumption from John Howard (not the Aussie Prime Minister!) who adds to the discussion that:

"Data no longer sits in a database hidden behind an opaque data access layer, it’s available as RSS and URLs, and can be linked too. To really make this stuff fly in an organisation you need an aggregation tool to close the loop."

Getting the aggregation tool in may be the stumbling block, rather than the individual social software applications.

3 comments:

  1. Hi James,

    Thanks for all your recent items on Enterprise 2.0, RSS, etc. You (and your commenters) have raised some thoughts / questions:

    * Within an organisation, how many people do you need to get the effects of Wisdom of Crowds, the Long Tail, etc? I don't think my comany of around 250 staff would be enough.

    * Some people would dismiss the value of E2.0 tools in such a small organisation but I think they're missing the point. There's enormous potential in using these tools for information sharing efficiency, collboration, knowledge capture, network building, etc. And they are (or can be) cheap too.

    * My view is that the RSS reader is an essential tool and that it should NOT be in Outlook. The RSS reader needs to have a different identity for a different purpose.

    * An additional required component (linked to the reader and the intranet) is an internal directory with push button subscribe/unsubscribe functionality.

    * I really like the RSS "nice to have" and email "must read" view but the cultural shift to have people publish to the right channel is enormous. I want to remove Outlook email groups!

    Keep up the good work.

    Andrew.

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  2. Hi James, I'm intrigued by the idea of a blogging platform that was inaccessible from the corporate IT environment, could you amplify what you mean a little?

    As for aggregation, it is the thing that gives oxygen to everything else in the social software garden. If you are unable to derive patterns or sense from all the activity then you are blind to a great degree because you can't see the footpaths that are being laid by others. You are then restricted to following links from other people's blogrolls and any other sources you may have.

    I stand by my comment, aggregation is the tool that closes the loop and if you put in social tools in an enterprise and don't aggregate them then you're missing a major part of the benefit. I agree that it is usually the trickiest thing to do, because you want to aggregate internal and external stuff, cache things to manage your bandwidth as a good netizen, and also prevent leakage out into the wider Internet of your internal content. This brings others to the party in many organisations which makes it harder to implement.

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  3. John - the blog wasn't so much inaccessible as invisible. You couldn't search for content, users had no tools to let them subscribe to an RSS feed or the ability to receive an email alert when new content was added. Drawing on your other point, in effect they couldn't aggregate the blog with the other content or channels they already had available.

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