It’s not about technology – it’s about doing it the Enterprise 2.0 way

Yesterday I followed the live stream of the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara. I could not help comparing the event with the recent Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Frankfurt. I realize why many people had raved about the Summit as “so different from the American conferences – more a management conference than a vendor event”.

In Santa Clara, I was surprised to see that Tony Zingale, CEO of Jive Software, started his key note with an advertising clip. Generally speaking, I was a bit disappointed by the key notes shown on the live stream. Most of them came from software vendors (I missed the first one from the U. S. State Department). IMHO, these talks were a bit like sales presentations – and focused too much on their respective platforms.

Yes, I admit it, one of my mantras is “It’s not about technology”. At the Summit, I learned that T-Systems’ Frank Schoenefeld considers this as one of the seven pitfalls of Enterprise 2.0. He advised us to carefully select the technology, integrate it into the existing software stack,  teach and educate employees how to use the social software stack.

I agree, this is important. Still, for me technology is a “conditio sine qua non” – indispensable, but not enough! Or – as Oscar Berg put it – technology is the obstacle between the user and his goals.

I am very happy that the Enterprise 2.0 Summit covered all those aspects that matter much more than technology. For instance, take the first day’s key notes  on “Manager 2.0 – Key Elements of Leadership Concepts in an Enterprise 2.0“. Richard Collin started his speech with a very powerful statement: Enterprise 2.0 is not about applying Social Software to the enterprise. It’s a new model of doing business and managing a company.

In Enterprise 2.0, technology is merely an enabler for a cultural evolution. It can change the way we connect with our colleagues, share information, collaborate, manage projects, innovate, lead, create value. Ah, here’s one thing I liked in yesterday’s Jive clip: It helps us move from “me” to “us”.

When introducing “2.0” to the Enterprise, we should position it as “a better way we work”. Better for the company, because it’s more efficient, opens new business opportunities and creates more value. And – even more attractive to our audience – better for YOU because it will make your tasks easier, help you feel appreciated and connected to your colleagues.

When planning communication for Enterprise 2.0, try to work out why your colleagues will FEEL GOOD when working in this new way. And don’t listen to anyone saying “they would feel good if they didn’t have to work”. You only need to know an unemployed person to understand that’s not true. We are social beings, and we want that the things we do make sense. That’s why “working the enterprise 2.0 way” appeals to us.

Last week, I learned that this can happen without any technology. I was invited to a workshop, together with 11 colleagues from very different units. Although most of us had no direct stakes in the workshop topic (“not in my target agreement”), and many of us had not met before, we managed to work out a great result and even committed to doing a follow-up. The success factors may sound familiar to you:

  • At the beginning, we worked out why the topic is vital for our company – and why we personally feel passionate about it
  • The organizers made it clear that we were picked not because of our job description, but because of our experiences and diverse approaches to the topic
  • The moderator created a collaborative spirit

At the end, we realized that we had worked “the Enterprise 2.0 way” – without ever logging into our platform.

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6 responses to “It’s not about technology – it’s about doing it the Enterprise 2.0 way

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention It’s not about technology – it’s about doing it the Enterprise 2.0 way | Shakespeare's Daughter Writes -- Topsy.com

  2. All valid points, but I just would like to recall that according to A.McAfee, who coined Enterprise 2.0 several years ago, “Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms by organizations in pursuit of their goals.” It is clear that “use” does not end at the technologial perspective. There might be examples for significant progress due to new ways of working together without any social software involved. However, in that case I find it difficult to relate it to “Enterprise 2.0″. Of course, in the end it is just a question about definitions. (For more see http://andrewmcafee.org/2009/08/defining-moment/)

    • Thank you for your comment, Sebastian. I like the way you refer to different meanings of “use”. That’s exactly what I mean: using social software is not only about choosing the right platform, installing it on your infrastructure and training people how to use it. You have to do your homework in the tech area, and then it becomes the least challenging point.
      In my limited experience, the vital point is to work in the way that is supported by social software: transparent, collaborative. On a very small scale, with a few people for a limited time, you can do this without any technology. If you want to move to a bigger scale, you need social software as enabler.

  3. Nice post, Cordelia! I really like the comparison with workshops. That’s what social media and enterprise 2.0 feels like. It underlines the fact that the concepts underlying enterprise 2.0 are much older than we think. That’s something McAfee also stresses: enterprise 2.0/social media brings us back to the old way we did business (focus on people, tap into networks, communities and tribes), but is revived and empowered by great tools.

  4. I also appreciate the web 2.0 Summit in Seeheim and heard the statement
    “It’s not about technology” and then the comment “It is about technology”.

    I fully agree to the comment technology is a “conditio sine qua non” – indispensable, but not enough!

    I would add it is like the “hen – egg” discussion. You need indispensable both, good technology and culture.

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