Enterprise 2.0: A Business Case for Change | 2: A Big Deal

Enterprise 2.0 provides a big business opportunity, if you drop the "technology fix" attitude. Part 2 of 3.

In part 1 of this blog post series, we saw that Enterprise 2.0 is about much more than just replacing email with social technologies.

Let's reframe Enterprise 2.0 as the organizational change opportunity it is.

I'd like to posit 3 fundamental axioms:

  1. Enterprise 2.0 is a big deal
  2. Enterprise 2.0 not a technology fix
  3. Social technology is a strategic enabler for organizational change

I'll expand on each of these three points below.

Enterprise 2.0 is a Big Deal

First of all, Enterprise 2.0 is a big deal. The McKinsey research everybody quotes estimates the impact of social technologies, done right, at a 20% to 25% productivity improvement. Other studies arrive at comparable estimates.

Please go back and read that again. 25%.

What is the ambition level of most of your policy priorities for the next year? An improvement of 1%, 2%? Maybe 5%? Surely not the double-digit improvements social technology has to offer.

So, this is a big deal. Anything that makes your employees 25% more productive is a huge, freakin' big deal. Which brings us to the second point.

Enterprise 2.0 Is Not A Technology Fix

Anything that promises to achieve this level of impact will require deep organizational change. You just cannot expect a 25% productivity increase while not changing operational procedures.

Indeed, the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 do not flow from the technology involved. The benefits result from the changed ways of collaboration, communication and organization that are enabled by social technology.

This is a key point, and it appears to be easily overlooked. The benefits derive from organizational change. Without organizational change, you will not get the benefits. Casting this as an IT exercise kills your business case.

Sadly, this is exactly what happens: Gartner reports that 80 percent of social business efforts fail this way. Instead of focusing on technology,

Leaders need to develop a social business strategy that makes sense for the organization and tackle the tough organizational change work head on and early on. Successful social business initiatives require leadership and behavioral changes.

Social Technology Is A Strategic Enabler For Organizational Change

Finally, you cannot do this without social technologies. Nobody expects to be able to run a multinational with smoke signals. Likewise, replacing bureaucratic structures with more nimble, faster learning networks requires a different technology base than the industrial-age type systems everybody uses.

This is what trips many a manager up, I suspect. If you think that something is either strategy or technology, you've fallen into the mind trap that considers technology to be a secondary, operational thingy. That used to be so, but it ain't so anymore.

Even if you're in some apparently low-tech industry, technology has become, or will very soon become, a core competency for your organization to survive. How else will you effectively connect customers, employees and suppliers with each other?

In the final part of this blog post series, we'll sketch a way out of this dilemma.

blog comments powered by Disqus