I was at a small conference/workshop recently called ‘Social Software in the Enterprise’. We were there to discuss how social software is changing the way businesses operate and innovate from within. Or at least I was……
There was the usual mix of management and technical types, all getting to grips with wikis, blogs, tagging, mash-ups etc, and how these things can change company culture and ultimately their bottom line.
Towards the end of day the guy I was next to started to ask who was already using this ‘stuff’ and how they see it fitting in with their current business.
The first response was from a guy opposite who quite bluntly said he was there to find out about this ‘stuff’ so they can prevent anyone using/doing it. He then went on to say he worked for a company who does not encourage open collaboration and innovation and they didn’t want their staff ‘getting creative’ or wasting time. The bottom line was they didn’t trust their staff and felt that all innovation etc should come from management or above.
Mr ‘there will be no innovation on my shift’ didn’t reveal who he worked for, but I wish I knew who it was so I could cross them off any potential future employer list!
Seriously though, there are people and companies out there who see Web/Enterprise 2.0 as a massive waste of time, or something to be feared. Old fashioned managers and CEO’s might see only the bad potential of their staff collaborating and getting creative. It’s an alien concept to me as I have seen first hand how some of the simplest and lightweight software ever installed behind the firewall (MediaWiki) has transformed the way not only I but hundreds of people work. The problem is no-one has been able to effectively communicate the power of Enterprise 2.0 to these people. They’ve probably just read a few tabloid articles on how a rouge blogger published some company secrets, or how a secretary spent 37 hours a week on MySpace……
Yes there are some things to exercise caution over, but on the whole it’s a no brainier for most companies. In fact I’m pretty sure even the guy in question will start to see Enterprise 2.0 within his company over the next few years, he might just not recognize it. It will either creep in by some resourceful users, or someone like Microsoft will sell it to them under a different name.