The Enterprise 2.0 conference kicks off next week in Boston. I have a number of friends who are speaking: Bill Ives, David Carter of iUpload, Dave Weinberger, Andrew McAfee. It promises to be an interesting event.
I’ve just returned from a few days in New York where I was introducing the E20 tool kit to a global advertising and marketing firm with 10,000 employees. I’ve done this a number of times and I have started to witness a recurring pattern. Here’s what it looks like:
Step 1: there is a clear and demonstrable need for the things that enterprise 2.0 or web 2.0 can do for the organization. Email is the only real two-way channel and it is overwhelmed and effectively broken. Information is not getting to the right people — a problem that RSS could easily solve. It is not possible with the current content-managment systems to use the new interface that Andrew McAfee calls SLATES: search, link, author, tag, extend, and signal (rss). Creating these new interfaces would give people much more control over their information environment and create new means of publishing, sharing and learning.
Step 2: When presented with this new platform and interface, which moves the control from the administrator to the individual, the people who currently control the way information flows and is managed are threatened. I have now seen this happen in five different industries, including financial services, engineering, high tech, and advertising. The resisters may be the IT department, the CTO, the CFO, or a group that has a lot of power over a line of business. The pattern is the same. They allow a prototype to be built and then as soon as it is presented to a group with the authority to make a decision to start rolling it out to a larger group, the power players move in and kill it. The reasons for the kill are multifold: security, integration with existing apps, Microsoft dominance, an unwillingness to give people control over their desktop “real estate.” The effect is the same: any possible implementation of e20 is DOA.
I know there are enterprises that are taking baby steps toward adoption and I believe that the services that e20 provides will ultimately win over. But in my personal experience it is going to be a hard fought battle. Enterprise 2.0 is very threatening to the existing power structures and is a profound cultural shift for enterprises. Until these more basic issues are addressed — who has the power to publish information and the benefits of transferring that power outweigh the risks to the people who current control the organization, no e20 solution is going to be adopted.