We're starting to see more organizations get interested in Enterprise 2.0. I interviewed three organizations on their E2.0 efforts and highlighted some of the common elements and lessons learned.

I started putting together an in-depth Enterprise 2.0 case study series where I interview companies that are initiating some sort of Enterprise 2.0 effort. Inputs are welcome.

Thus far, I have spent a good amount of time interviewing Oce (news, site), Vistaprint (site) and Intuit (news, site).

Each organization had their unique challenges and approaches to Enterprise 2.0, but there were also several common elements amongst the three organizations that I wanted to share.

Editor's Note: Also read Markus Sprenger's Global Collaboration Survey Reveals Collaboration Challenge

I spoke with key members that were responsible for Enterprise 2.0 at their respective organizations. And here are the lessons learned.

People, Not Technology

All three companies told me that the focus of their efforts wasn’t on the technology, but on change management and culture shifts to get employees to adopt and use these new technology platforms.

As we’ve seen many times in the past, deploying a tool only gets you so far.

Editor's Note: Also read Carl Frappolo's Collaboration – If it Were That Easy We Would all Do It – Well

The focus needs to be on changing and encouraging desired behaviors. All three organizations told me that the focus of their initiatives was on the users themselves and not on the corporate benefit as a whole. Meaning instead of going to employees and saying, “use this tool so company X can make and save money,” they said, “this tool can help make your job and your life easier, and this is how.” 

ROI and Unexpected Returns

None of the organizations were able to predict what the ROI from their efforts would be yet they all invested heavily in their E2.0 efforts.

In fact, ROI calculation wasn’t a key factor in deciding to implement an Enterprise 2.0 tool at all. Instead, all three organizations had business challenges that they needed to overcome and used E2.0 as the way to do it.

What’s really interesting is that in all three cases, none of the companies were able to predict or even guess what sort of direct returns they would be looking at. Yet, all three organizations have seen returns that have far exceeded their expectations.

Oce, for example, was able to save over € 800, 000 annually as a result of an idea an employee, which incentivized truck drivers to refill gas at local stations instead of those found near the highway.

Vistaprint was able to cut their new engineer training time by over 50%, and Intuit was able to decrease their time to market for products by 60%.

Again, none of these organizations were able to predict these kinds of returns. There has definitely been a large serendipitous factor. At the end of the day, employees are the most valuable asset for any organization, therefore it was logical for all three of these companies to empower their most valuable assets to do their job better. 

One Hit Wonders Don’t Exist

All three organizations have hit roadblocks and have experienced set backs such as lack of certain platform adoption by employees.

It’s unreasonable to think that organizations will get things 100% right from day one, regardless of how much planning and strategizing takes place, that’s just not the case.

The key to successful adoption has been listening to and implementing user feedback and adapting. Enterprise 2.0 is a living and growing "thing" that continues to change. It's important to understand this because support is going to be necessary in order to succeed, purchasing and deploying is not the way to go about this.  

Support, Support, Support

Although some of the companies I spoke to did see E2.0 bubble up from the bottom, all of the organizations depended upon support from senior level managers to make E2.0 successful.

Support is crucial not just from a financial standpoint but from a leadership standpoint. If employees are encouraged to change their behaviors (or use a new collaboration solution), but notice that senior level managers aren't doing so as well, then this makes for a very inconsistent and confusing message, which oftentimes leads employees to abandon ship with a "if my boss isn't doing it, then why should I?" mentality.

The opposite is just as true. If employees see that leaders within the organization are changing their behavior and adopting new collaboration tools, then they are more likely to do so as well.   

Horror Stories? What Horror Stories?

Sometimes, we hear that organizations are scared of implementing Enterprise 2.0 (or social media, for that matter), because they lose control over their employees and their information.

None of the organizations I have interviewed reported any type of horror stories. In fact, all three organizations report having more control over their information and how employees access and use it.  Aside from the case studies I have put together, I challenge anyone to find any E2.0 horror stories. Let us know in the comments.

If you want more case studies and examples you can check out this list of over 50+ Enterprise 2.0 case studies and stories that I have compiled over the past few months (if you have any to add please let me know).

Is your organization starting to implement Enterprise 2.0?  If so, what are some of the things you are seeing?  Are they consistent with the findings above?