Thinking of deploying Enterprise 2.0 solutions in your organization? Here's a little advice on how to do and how it increases productivity -- especially if you include access via mobile devices.

What Is Enterprise 2.0

Enterprise 2.0, Enterprise Social Software, Enterprise Web 2.0, E2.0, ESSPs -- these are all terms used interchangeably by many. Instead of coming up with yet another definition, I’ll take a short-cut to help with the level-set and quote Wikipedia.

What many regard as the seed definition was provided by Andrew McAfee, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School in 2006 and is what this Wikipedia entry references.

Social Software for an Enterprise must have the following functionality to work well:

  • Search: allowing users to search for other users or content
  • Links: grouping similar users or content together
  • Authoring: including blogs and wikis
  • Tags: allowing users to tag content
  • Extensions: recommendations of users; or content based on profile
  • Signals: allowing people to subscribe to users or content with RSS feeds
  • Freeform function: no barriers to authorship (meaning free from a learning curve or from restrictions)
  • Network-oriented function, requiring web-addressable content in all cases
  • Social function: stressing transparency (to access), diversity (in content and community members) and openness (to structure)
  • Emergence function: requiring the provision of approaches that detect and leverage the collective wisdom of the community

Of course there are plenty of nuances out there -- and I would encourage any definition refinements or clarifications. Please add your thoughts to the comments section, after all -- the advantage of leveraging a cumulative knowledge source is what E2.0 and this post is about!

Introducing Enterprise 2.0 into Your Company

Introducing E2.0 is a significant change in direction for many companies that will require some level of culture adjustment by the grumpy laggards within your organization, and (of course) a good internal communication and phased roll-out plan for the transition to be successful.

The most critical component of success is adoption and usage, so make sure you take some time to seed some content in the new tool (an initial proof of concept prior to general roll-out is a good idea) and tell people that you are sun-setting the old way of doing business.  (Also read: Three Things to Consider in Your Enterprise Collaboration Strategy).

When introducing the concept, remember that because you have spent the last six months researching the field and available products you are likely to talk above your audience (making the entire exercise pointless). 

Instead, pretend no one has heard of E2.0 before and make sure you set up some training sessions for the new tools. Once you think you’ve done a good job of socializing everything, remember that no one has questions during the first training session, because no one has been compelled to use the tool until then. So, follow-up with another training session about 1 month post roll-out to help those that are struggling. 

If you haven’t seen any signs of E2.0 in your company, hopefully you’re in a position to change that. If you are a decision maker or influencer, collaborative tools are worth the time for proper due-diligence. When executed correctly they can have a significant impact on the organization’s success. 

If you’re not on anyone’s radar yet, a well thought-out recommendation for E2.0 and the benefits it would provide to your firm could grab the attention of forward thinking players (the ones that matter).     

Rolling out these new tools across the company in 2010 or beyond will be a lot easier since your staff will very likely recognize the tools once they are deployed. E2.0, after all, takes two well-known concepts: Social Networking and Productivity Tools and combines them.  

This is a natural transition for the market, driven in large part by lessons learned from consumer market products (Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, etc.) and by consumer adoption of these social communication tools.

How Enterprise 2.0 Can Help Increase Your Company’s Productivity 

Increasing employee productivity is at the heart of Enterprise 2.0. The tools are intended to help connect the brain power across organizational silos, draw-out hidden institutional knowledge, ultimately reducing the amount of times your employees solve the same problem (hopefully to single digit occurrences).

Employees will either contribute or consume, but either way they will gravitate to the medium they are most comfortable with whether it’s updating a Wiki, providing the Answers (or “A”) in Social Q&A, blogging, creating a mashup to help clarify a problem, or other form of interaction. 

Whatever the point of engagement turns out to be, if it’s E2.0 based, the interaction will reach knowledge pools you may never eknew existed in-house, responses can be immediate, and will be something other employees can reference when trying to solve the same problem in the future (searchable). 

Also read: 3 Ways Documents are Related to Enterprise Collaboration by Larry Hawes

Mobile Access Will Help Increase Usage and Extend Reach  

Forrester reports that 18% of companies running E2.0 platforms are also providing access via internet-enabled mobile devices. I believe there should be more companies doing this. If you take into consideration the following data points, maybe you'll feel the same.

“The State of Mobile: U.S. Mobile Media Landscape and Trends” (Comscore - June 2010):

  • 53% of smartphone users are on social networking
  • 78% of smartphone users are actively browsing
  • 84% of smartphone users are using apps
  • 85% YoY increase in smartphone ownership
  • In 2013 the global number of users on mobile will surpass the global number of desktop computers
  • Social Networking users are showing the highest gains with 80% YoY growth
  • Facebook is the top site on mobile in the UK and 2nd in the US after the aggregated Google properties
  • Apple, RIM, and Android are actively marketing to consumers that want to use the phones for mixed business and personal use.

It all comes back to the notion that adoption and usage are the most critical requirements for a successful E2.0 program. By providing access via mobile, you will be removing an access barrier, which will increase contributions; ultimately getting more productivity out of your employees (they can update the wiki while on the train from Boston to NY). 

On the other side of the coin, from a security perspective, it is important to proceed with caution. It is important that your organization sets a security policy in place for mobile devices. E2.0 ecosystems typically house some extremely sensitive data which a competitor would be very happy to find at The Gourmet Haus Staudt Bewhouse

To Sum it up…

Enterprise 2.0 is a category that has gained a strong foothold and brings forth many perks for organizations that invest in it. Wiki adoption leads the way, with a near 50% adoption rate predicted by the end of 2010 (Forrester “Enterprise Social Networking 2010 Market Overview”).

If you haven’t taken a serious look at introducing this to your organization yet, it’s worth your time, and you should certainly consider it’s worth someone in your organization not having to solve the same problem for the 44th time this year.

Read more articles by Jason Munson on the mobile web, including: Why Mobile Websites Are Better than Mobile Applications, Part 1