As an Ambassador of the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT taking place in Frankfurt (Germany), October 26-28, 2010, I got the chance to do the following interview with Bjoern Negelmann, the Program Director for the event.
1. What evolution do you see in the topic of Enterprise 2.0?
From my perceptions as a conference chair in the field of Enterprise 2.0 I can conclude that social software has definitely entered the corporate landscape. As Bertrand Duperrin wrote in a recent blog post (http://www.duperrin.com/english/2010/09/14/enterrpise-2-0-and-roi-forget-th
e-whether-and-focus-on-the-how/) - E20 is not anymore a question of "whether" a company has to do it but about "how" it can be realized to achieve the expected results.
But talking about the Enterprise 2.0 "evolution" we also have to distinguish between the E20 reality and the E20 visions - as defined by the evangelists in this field. For the E20 reality I would say that (at least for the German
area) the projects around the topic of Enterprise 2.0 are not yet spinning the big wheel. They are not starting with the objective to change and transform the whole enterprise, but to enhance and improve specific areas of the enterprise by the use of new forms of collaboration and knowledge sharing. Therefore these projects are also not always titled as E20 projects. The cultural change process is not the key objective of these projects but is one of the implicit effects that go along with the success of these projects.
The visionary notion of E20 is already defined on a wider scope - including the transformation of the business model (aka Open Innovation) and the integration of the customer and partner in collaborative approaches (aka [SocialCRM]). But for the most E20 practioneers these approaches are out of their scope.
So as a conclusion I would say the topic of Enterprise 2.0 is "in between".
2. Where do we stand in regards to the emerging Enterprise 2.0 idea within corporations?
In March I wrote a blog posting on the "dissemination of the E20 virus"
us/) - in other words how the E20 idea is spreading across the corporation.
In this article I distinguished different stages on which different fields of business and management levels of the enterprise are involved with the topic of Enterprise 2.0.
In regards to these observations I see different clusters of corporations at different stages of this idea. From my discussions with the corporate project leads at our conferences I would identify three different clusters:
- SME organization with innovative leaders who understood the potentials of a networked organization and therefore are disintegrating the hierarchical command-and-control system with new forms of collaboration.
This small group of vibrant corporations are leading the evolution and are at stage 4.
- Corporations that are very much dependent on information/knowledge as a value generating resource. These organizations have a strong focus on improving their knowledge sharing and retention to generate more business value (e.g. consulting firms, insurances and also pharmaceuticals). They are in between the stages of 2 and 3.
- Corporations with a strong middle management that still is trying to keep control of the knowledge and therefore of their power. These companies are very much at the beginning (stage 0 with underground grass-routed initiatives, stage 1 with corporate communications using social software for internal communications but also stage 2 with HR trying to source and keep hold of good staff resources by providing "state-of-the-art" social interaction systems).
Well - this clustering is very much stereotyping and in reality there is much more variance also other distinguishing factors like industries or others. But the above described groups that I come along very often.
3. Where do you see the main challenges for corporations in driving their Enterprise 2.0 initiatives?
Although I started with the statement that social software has definitely entered the corporate stage. There are always also corporations that are just willing to start an initiative and that have to justify their projects.
But going beyond the discussion of the "value" and ROI of E20 for the project justification the key challenge is the successful introduction and management of these initiatives. Social interactions cannot really be planned upfront; the real challenge of social software is about successfully handling the group dynamics and the self-inciting effects. And this is a question of adopting the habits of collaborating and knowledge management to new approaches, helping people to perceive some value out of the participation fast and not loosing their interest in participation because of a lack of relevance in the long run.
This is also the reason of several panels at our E20 SUMMIT
(http://www.e20summit.com/conference/expert-talks.html) that are talking about the challenges of different adoption approaches, the risks of the downside of transparency and information overload or the participation management.
4. What do you think are the most important elements to plan an Enterprise 2.0 initiative?
I believe trying to focus on the small achievements is the best approach. If scaled to big, the E20 initiatives cannot come up fast with benefits for the user. And this is very important - as by all user-friendly orientation of any new system it will be an additional effort for the staff member to take part. And therefore he/she wants to receive a benefit - or he/she won't come back tomorrow.
5. What may we expect from this year's Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT in Frankfurt?
If you have a look at the program (http://www.e20summit.com/conference) you will see - the E2.0 SUMMIT is not about the big next vision but about the practical insights of the early adopter. In other words we will hear about what others have done well or not so well and what we need to take care of for our own projects.
Bjoern, Thank you very much for the interview and your insight.