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Community, Content And Collaboration – More Confusion Than Ever!

As CIOs embark on their enterprise 2.0 strategy, even more confusion exists around the topic of community, content and collaboration.

Let’s first clarify some nomenclature by defining enterprise 1.0.

These enterprises were happy with implementing document management systems, search, portals and establishing security strategies to protect the perimeter. In this world, you are either inside or outside of the company network. If you need information, you would first need to somehow connect to the network.

Enterprise 2.0 is much more different from what we experienced. It’s much more akin to what was seen in the consumer web in the late 90’s rather than what is seen today. Here are some examples:

Web of the 90’s Today’s Consumer web Implications for the Enterprise
iGoogle and my.Yahoo Facebook and Foursquare We all want customers and employees to engage with our company. What can we do to make this happen?
Google and Yahoo Twitter How do we get customers and employees to subscribe to our enterprise and seek information rather than us having to push information?
Support sites YouTube How can we get customers and employees to use their medium of choice to learn what they need, at the point of need, to be successful?

At Informatica, we’ve fully embraced an Enterprise 2.0 strategy as evidenced by our customer community. Sixty percent of our community members visit our site once per day and 85% once per week. We believe we’ve been able to achieve such results because of our pursuit away from portals to communities.

Still, however, confusion exists on how to truly build an Enterprise 2.0 strategy. I don’t have all the answers, but I do believe I have the questions that warrant pondering. Enterprise 2.0 is not like implementing a packaged application. We are all familiar with CRM, ERP… pick your favorite three-letter acronym. In the Enterprise 2.0 world, the technology stack is yet to truly be defined. What do I mean?

Example Technology Choices

  • SharePoint
  • Social Software, e.g. Jive
  • salesforce.com Chatter
  • Yammer
  • Enterprise Search
  • Open Source, e.g. wikis

The challenge with this stack is that there is tremendous overlap with these technologies, but enough difference to make each technology valuable. In some ways, this looks like a very complicated Venn diagram. The challenge is ‘what technology you standardize on and for what’. The second issue is how to provide employees and customers with access to this information at the point of need, just like the social web.

I’ve said before that in many ways the role of a CIO is to place technology bets. With enterprise 2.0, the odds for these bets are very unclear and the wrong choice can be expensive and cost credibility. In the ideal world, we minimize the amount of thrash on an organization by making the right bets.

What’s a CIO to do?

I believe your team owes you a clearly articulated technology stack with the appropriate justification. Am I suggesting that we not get requirements first? It depends on how enlightened your business partners are and whether or not you can sponsor these initiatives within IT. I believe that the concept of Enterprise 2.0 is emerging and the role of the CIO is to educate the organization, in essence, drumming-up sponsorship. The value of the technology stack is that it provides a straw-man basis for the CIO to use to sell value to the organization.

If you don’t do this, there is a strong likelihood that your organization will bring in these technologies and drag you along. I believe the CIO must be ahead of the curve. The easiest way to do this is through the consumer web. All a CIO needs to do is ask what their equivalent technology is. For example, what’s our Facebook equivalent, how do we tweet internally, are we location aware? Personally, I’m not a big proponent of social media, but I’m there because I need to be. This is where the conversations are happening and the audiences I want to dialogue with are.

Enterprise 2.0 may or may not be your passion, but it’s here to stay. This is a topic IT organizations must embrace or employees will creatively find alternatives.

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