Enterprise 2.0 | Benefits & Risks

In my last post, I discussed some case studies which highlight how Enterprise 2.0 is being utilized in organizations such as Citrix and Emergent Solutions Inc. A closer examination of the increasing adoption of Enterprise 2.0 best practices exposes several factors that need to be considered while determining the viability of enterprise-wide adoption. We will now take a closer look at the specific benefits and risks for Enterprise 2.0 implementations, as highlighted in a variety of case studies, as also the specific risks that organizations face when employees are not afforded Web 2.0 enabled communication platforms. The key questions to consider are:

What will Enterprise 2.0 do for my organization?

How can I sell/pitch Enterprise 2.0 to ‘Corporate’?

What would happen if my organization decides to block/ban access to Web 2.0 platforms?

Are there any risks in implementing Enterprise 2.0? How can we overcome them?

Enterprise 2.0 | Cause_and_effect

There are certainly benefits to be had, through successful Enterprise 2.0 implementations; these are broadly identified as: Increased productivity/efficiency, Knowledge Management, Increased Reputation / Brand Image and Employee Engagement.

Certainly, harnessing these benefits requires an adjusted focus towards ‘losing control’ over employees. IBM, a mammoth organization that employs over 400,000 people worldwide, has very effectively relinquished this control by empowering employees to engage in social media such as blogs, Socialblue, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. With – literally – hundreds of thousands of employees across these networks, it is little wonder then that the IBM brand attracts over 500,000 people worldwide during crowdsourcing jams. This scale of employee engagement leads to a massive surge in productivity and initiative. The 2006 Innovation Jam, led to the selection of 10 best ideas which IBM funded with $100M, leading to Smarter Planet. Initiatives such as this are a good example of organizations harnessing collective intelligence by engaging network effects without any need for control or policing. Which, in turn, leads to greater knowledge management and enhanced brand image for the organization without any direct corporate direction or input.

..Hibbard, C. 2010. How IBM Uses Social Media to Spur Employee Innovation. Retrieved 16/08/2010 from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-ibm-uses-social-media-to-spur-employee-innovation/

..IBM. 2006. IBM Invests $100 Million in Collaborative Innovation Ideas. Retrieved 16/08/2010 from http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/20605.wss

Perhaps the IBM results might be viewed as an inevitable triumph in an organization believed to employ highly motivated IT professionals. So , here’s an example from a domain that is always described as highly rigid & governed – SBAB, a government owned bank in Sweden. Using the basic steps to Enterprise 2.0 success – Management Sponsorship, Starting Small, Maintaining Informality and Clarity of Vision, SBAB was able to rollout a highly successful Enterprise 2.0 platform for employees in September, 2009. The metrics speak for themselves:

‘A single business unit with 74 contributing users generating over 4000 Wiki articles in just 5 months!’

SBAB E2.0 Growth

Not only does this address all the benefits Enterprise 2.0 has to offer, but it also demonstrates that E2.0 works even for the most rigid organisations with a very high stake in information security and control.

..Hansson, R. 2009. Pizza & Beer – a successful E2.0 launch. Retrieved 16/08/2010 from http://www.e20-blog.com/post/pizza-beer

However, the rapid increase in visibility into Enterprise 2.0 successes is rather marginalizing the documentation of Enterprise 2.0 failures, or so I’ve found. Few organizations would want to admit that they’ve not been able to implement E2.0, at least not successfully. Also, Enterprise 2.0 is best implemented in an organization when there is exists an approved case for it; an emergent risk with this trend is the evolution of E2.0 into a solution-looking-for-a-problem.

..Patel, S. 2010. Articulating the Business Case. In Enterprise 2.0 Prepares for Relevancy. Retrieved 16/08/2010 from http://www.pretzellogic.org/2010/06/21/enterprise-2-0-prepares-for-relevancy/

It therefore becomes important to discuss the risks associated with implementing Enterprise 2.0.

Ross Dawson, a leading Enterprise 2.0 Evangelist, as interviewed by the Australian Financial Review acknowledges that “there are some real dangers in an increasingly transparent world”. However, in his opinion, one of the most common perceived risks is decreased productivity, due to employees ‘wasting time’ on social networks. While this may be a reality, the risks in implementing Enterprise 2.0 call for an abstracted, higher view into the organizational drivers for Enterprise 2.0 implementation and the risks they create. Dawson’s Enterprise 2.0 Governance Framework lists the main risks organizations face as – Productivity, Information Loss, Reputation, Network Penetration, Culture.

..Dawson, R. 2008. An Enterprise 2.0 Governance Framework – looking for input! Retrieved 16/08/2010 from http://www.rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2008/02/an_enterprise_2.html

One such blaring example that highlights a lot of the risks mentioned, is that of the twitter user – ‘theconnor’ – who was offered a job at Cisco; due to an imprudent tweet, ‘theconnor’ was fired from the organization even before being inducted, as reported by Helen A.S. Popkin, of MSNBC.

..Popkin, H. 2009. Twitter gets you fired in 140 characters or less. Retrieved 16/08/2010 from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29796962/

There are certainly risks with implementing Enterprise 2.0 in your organization, which result from the heightened visibility into the organization. However utilizing this as one of the sole reasons towards refraining from jumping on the E2.0 bandwagon, can also prove to be counter-productive. Euan Semple, a Social Media consultant quoted in a whitepaper by Melcrum, mentions:

“It’s better to do something than to do nothing, particularly when it comes to large organizations and giving employees a platform to share their views and discuss their working lives.”

Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at the Center for Digital Business in the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a fellow at the Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, states in his blog (in relation to potential security concerns of implementing E2.0) that “people already know how to behave appropriately, and they’re not going to be driven suddenly wild by the appearance of the new platforms.”

..McAfee, A. 2006. Enterprise 2.0 Insecurities. Retrieved 16/08/2010 from http://andrewmcafee.org/2006/11/enterprise_20_insecurities/

I will discuss some specific risks, in more detail, in my next post. Please feel free to comment.


About Shri Ram
Senior Project Manager with 8 years of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) and business management experience in the private sector with key emphasis on program management, strategic project management, account management, vendor management and best-in-class product development utilizing PMBOK/PRINCE2/Agile Project Management Methodologies.

One Response to Enterprise 2.0 | Benefits & Risks

  1. Pingback: Enterprise 2.0 Legal Risks, Explained.. « Koshurbatt's Blog

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