The Enterprise 2.0 platforms are simply different communication tools to be used within and outside the company, by employees, customers, suppliers and partners. By themselves they almost never give tangible benefits.
Enterprise 2.0 platforms
As Andrew McAfee said ("Enterprise 2.0: the dawn of emergent collaboration"), within the companies employees communicate using two types of tools: channels and platforms. Enterprise 2.0 platforms share the advantages from both channels and platforms:
- from channels: the possibility for anyone in the company to create and distribute content ("user generated content");
- from platforms: the high level of commonality (the content is visible to anyone authorized, not only to message’s recipients).
The use of communication tools with these features is as old as the world and exists since the mankind has had the possibility to leave messages in places easily accessible to all the people interested in; it started with prehistoric cave paintings, and is such a natural way to communicate that everyone is using it: children and adults.
Enterprise 2.0 platforms and Business Processes
As with all communication tools, also with 2.0 platforms their availability within the company does not imply that they will be used by the employees and even less that they will be used by the employees for achieving business goals. The reason is that a communication process to be started requires that the author of the message has:
- an objective or goal motivating her to start the communication;
- a content to communicate;
- someone (the recipient) interested in receiving such a content and, possibly, in continuing the conversation.
Therefore a communication tool, be it 2.0 or not, in order to be used for business purposes, should:
- be functional to the personal goals of employees (i.e. support the individual tasks of employees, either by reducing their effort or by augmenting product quality/volumes):
- allow easy transfer/embedding of content related to employee’s tasks (i.e. the platform should be easy to use and tightly integrated into the operational context of the employee);
- quickly and easily connect the people involved in the employee’s tasks (i.e. the platform has to be integrated with the upstream and downstream operational flows ).
- This requires that in providing Enterprise 2.0 communication platforms, it is necessary to carefully plan for their integration within business processes and with the existing technology platforms supporting them. Enterprise 2.0 platforms should therefore be considered as a communication tool to be used within ICT solutions and business processes and not as a technology which can be used and give a ROI per se.
- From Communication to Collaboration 2.0 processes "emerging"
- But are the availability of Enterprise 2.0 communication platforms and their integration into processes sufficient to ensure, by themselves, the automatic creation of the "Social Enterprise", that is the emergence of cooperation ?
- The answer to this question is NO.
- If the dominant corporate culture is a reactive and not a proactive one, the content shared using the platforms will generate little or no value, and the use of the new platforms will be considered to be a different, perhaps more efficient, but not more effective, way to do the same things: the same workflow done using different tools.
- In order to let collaboration emerge within the company, the employees should have common, shared goals aligned with corporate’s business objectives, it’s not sufficient that the social objects shared through Enterprise 2.0 platforms are business objects drawn from enterprise’s processes.
- It’s the existence of common, shared goals between employees that motivates them to spontaneously generate and proactively share new content relevant for the company both within and outside predefined workflows, thus paving the way for a real ROI from Enterprise 2.0 platforms adoption: open innovation, collective intelligence, etc. …
- For these reasons, a project of Social Enterprise (or Enterprise 2.0), can not be limited to deploying Enterprise 2.0 platforms within the company, but must take in due account:
- existing information systems and organizational processes;
- the system of targets and incentives both for individuals and production units
What’s your opinion ?