Sunday 4 March 2007

Where do you stand on Enterprise 2.0?

I think its significant, in the context of the trends myself and others are tracking in the Enterprise 2.0 space, that there are number overlapping articles from ComputerWorldInformation Week and CIO magazine at the moment:

  • How IT Makes Johnny More Productive: Tech-enabled multitasking leads to productivity gains at the desktop, a new study shows - "one of biggest predictors of productivity is social networks — the people you communicate with over e-mail. Social network analyses have indicators of where you are in the network — whether you're central or peripheral. If you measure the shortest communication path between each pair of individuals, the number of times anyone else appears in that path gives you 'betweenness.' That means they’re in the thick of information flows, and it’s a good predictor of their productivity." [care of Jack Vinson] UPDATE: The paper behind this article is available for download.
  • Most Business Tech Pros Wary About Web 2.0 Tools In Business - "For all the mind-numbing buzz about Web. 2.0, most business collaboration and information sharing remains mired in endless e-mail strings and scheduled conference calls. More than half of business technology pros surveyed by InformationWeek are either skeptical about tools such as blogs, wikis, and online social networks, or they're willing but wary of adopting them."
  • Users Who Know Too Much (And the CIOs Who Fear Them) - "Users have a history of providing their own technology, but the capabilities of today’s consumer IT products and the ease with which users can find them is unprecedented... There’s a consumer technology out there for every task imaginable—and if there isn’t, there’s a tool that will let someone create it tomorrow. The era in which IT comes only from your IT department is over."

When will pull these articles together, there is a common thread and it won't surprise you - Elisa Graceffo, Microsoft's group product manager for collaboration and portals, sums it up well in the Information Week article:

"There's this tension between the IT department that wants to have this orderly, planned infrastructure, and you've got end users out there experimenting with all these different collaboration tools."

And the reason of course that users want these different collaboration tools is they help them to be more productive... isn't that what everyone want?

However, I still have some sympathy for "little guy" who comments on the CIO magazine article:

"Because I work for a medium sized non-profit, I’ve been able to escape a lot of the compliance issues my bigger siblings have faces, but it won’t be long now. Frankly, it scares me as I have few staff and fewer dollars. Now this article comes along to tell me - don’t worry about your corporate data, employee productivity, or the latest freeware screwing up the desktop - costing my staff time. It’s all part of the wonderful world of chaos IT! Let them do their chaos IT at home, where I don’t have to worry about fixing their screwups!"

But there is a counterpoint - which comes from a non-IT manager in another non-profit, Emily Turner, who approaches it as a Technology Stewardship issue, a concept I'm aware through Nancy White:

"There was no existing “IT Guy” to control how we used IT before I came along, nor do I think having one would have necessarily benefited us... Our organic way of collaborating and simple everyday working has fostered this more grassroots use of technology to develop ideas - people no longer feel like they have to shut their ideas down as unachievable, or feel they have to relinquish their control over them to strict technological requirements.

Social media tools are, of course, the best technology to use in cases like these. Perhaps my own self-training in figuring out these tools is the ideal background for integrating them into our everyday functioning."

I guess its all about perspective.

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