Wednesday 31 October 2007

Enterprise 2.0 and Generation Y - What's the right time to adopt?

I have been reading some papers recently about the differences between the Baby Boomer Generation and Generation Y. Specifically, I am interested in how individuals from both generations will react to the social computing tools when they are eventually adopted behind the firewall in large organisations.

Generation Y kids (those born between 1985 - 1995) are now coming into the workforce. I was born in 1984, so I actually feel a bit left out when I read about all of the excitement around this next bunch!

These individuals (which is a strange way to describe the most connected generation there has ever been) bring with them a whole new genre of communicating. They were the first to experience internet use in their schools, they have come through college with Google, Facebook, YouTube and all of the other social networking sites over the last 10 years.

If I focus a little on their most recent experience - College, here they have used the power of google and the web to teach themselves how to find information. They have used social networking sites to find, rate, share and view content such as music, videos, stories and slideshows with each other.

Now Imagine yourself as one of these guys (e.g. You are 21, and starting in a large MNC):
  • You arrive in an environment where there are no efficient ways for finding the information you want, now when you don't know something about a specific task in your company - you can't just google it!
  • You have no way of finding others who may know because the corporate directory lists only name, department, email and phone details - there are no full profiles (Knowledge Maps).
  • To top it all off, you can't access YouTube, Facebook, SlideShare, Flickr etc because they are all banned in your organisation.

I could add more to this list but my basic point is that these young creative individuals will be like fish out of water when they arrive at their desks on day 1! What I am interested in is when is the right time to introduce Enterprise 2.0 into your organisation.

In the beginning the Baby Boomer senior management will not understand the user urge for wiki's, blogs, and collaborative tools such as tagging and bookmarking, however, at the same time the generation Y knowledge workers will get frustrated with the lack of structure and transparency in the enterprise information environment they will be working in.

Monday 22 October 2007

IT Consumerisation - The user has the power!

I have been reading lots of papers recently about web2.0 adoption in large enterprises. It seems that the common occurrence is a small grassroots seed that grows with popularity into a larger more widely used solution.

I am referring to the IT consumerization which Gartner says will be "the most significant trend affecting IT in the next 10 years". While looking at my own organisation for my dissertation, I have come across multiple small-scale wiki implementations scattered among different departments.

On their own, each wiki was very powerful and an excellent improvement on the conventional tools for team collaboration in the 90's (email + MS Office), but in terms of consistency, cross-reference and compatibility they are actually creating the same siloed effect we started with. In speaking to one of the "Wiki-Champions", I also discovered that usage was not very high amongst the team members because the wiki was seen as a "gimic" i.e. There was no exclusive content on it which required them to use it, and also no management support of its usage.

I believe that IT managers have to recognise the user "urge" to use the social software tools as part of their working environment. The best way is to get in early, to put the tools in place so that at least when a team or project wants to create content in a workspace, they are all common, held on a single knowledge base (I don't like the word repository), and can be searched with all of the others.

One of the things that I have been concentrating on from the beginning is management support. If I engage the senior management approval for wiki usage by clearly displaying and explaining the KM benefits which could be realised, then I will get that exclusive content which will help ensure improved usage and sustained engagement with the system.

Monday 8 October 2007

Collaborating in Workspaces

As part of my dissertation, I have been exploring the concept of employees working in "spaces" rather than on siloed PC's or shared folder drives. I have been expanding my enterprise workshop manager idea. There are 2 reasons for this:

  1. By having informal discussions with colleagues, I realised that an enterprise would want much more than a workshop manager. They were all pointing me towards some method of capturing the knowledge created in a workshop, linking to the relevant output documents and giving the content some context.

  2. When I started looking at enterprise wiki solutions, I realised how powerful they are. With the emphasis on simplicity, I was able to focus more on the content instead of worrying how the small pieces would fit together.

The main product I have been looking at is Confluence from Atlassian. I had heard alot about this product from other bloggers, so I decided to have a look for myself. I have found it very easy to use so far, and most importantly, Confluence does the simple things right.

So what does the use of an enterprise wiki offer? Well I am loving the concept of working in "spaces". A space is created for a project, many pages (overviews, documents, attachments, conversations etc) are created within this space providing a better visualisation of the project for its participants.

There are the more obvious advantages also - reduction in the use of shared folder drives, better document versioning, reduction of email spaghetti. Overall, I just love the look and feel of working in a project space, allowing me to access all relevant documentation in a searchable, taggable, personalisable space.

One interesting thing I will be looking at will be the comparison of a low-cost product such as Confluence with an enterprise giant such as Lotus Quickplace.

More to come on what I am actually doing, not getting much time to blog at the mo!