Top 3 Business Benefits of (internal) Enterprise 2.0

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I was recently asked what are some of my top business benefits of implementing Enterprise 2.0 tools.  Here are three.

1. Personal Information/Knowledge Management

Until recently how did individuals inside an organization manage their own information and knowledge?  Well without having access to an official KM tool (which most don’t) they use email, their C:\drive and in some cases network file shares.  Now, with many E2.0 offerings the first way a user gets benefit from a tool is to manage their own information.  Think of social bookmarking tools, you first use it to store and retrieve your own bookmarks, then discovering other peoples contributions before finally contributing (with intent) to networks or topics of interest.  The same is true for wikis, and as I saw at Pfizer the first use people get value from is creating pages for projects they are working on to organize their own house before contributing to the community.  When we started selling the solution I part represent we called this ‘Personally Essential, Collectively Critical’, meaning that a tool should first satisfy the need of an individual (which in turn aids adoption) before leveraging network effects to become crucial to the organization.

2. Expertise Identification

One of the top benefits of leveraging E2.0 solutions I often quote is that of finding the experts inside (or external to) the company.  Historically if you worked inside a large organization and wanted to find someone who was an expert in, say, the IT aspect relating to acquisitions, you would first look at the company phone directory or person listing.  You’d try and find someone who indicated they worked in acquisitions or a related department and would have to rely on what their job title says.  Or you might ask around to see if colleagues knew anyone with this particular expertise.  The problem is that a persons job title does not necessarily reflect their real work involvements, expertise or interests.  The same is true for LinkedIn in many respects.  If I wanted to I could change my job title to Technology Director for E2.0 for ACME INC and start fielding inquiries from around the world.  Just because my job title is XYZ it doesn’t necessarily reflect reality.  Now enter E2.0 tools for the enterprise and you are quickly able to tie people to content and people to people.  After time you are able to identify people related to a topic or function not by job title alone but by their real life interactions.  Surely this is a BIG reason to implement E2.0 especially for large, diverse organizations.

3. Collective Intelligence

Often misunderstood and sneered at after being a term overused by KM consultants over the years, collective intelligence is my third capability enabled by E2.0.  Collective Intelligence is a product of both personal (but open) information/knowledge management and expertise identification.  By opening up an organization’s content, user defined networks and interactions you get to both feel the pulse of the company knowledge but also access it on demand for specific topics and queries.  All it takes is the correct implementation and integration of the various competence of E2.0 tools to create this ‘virtual brain’ of the company.

There are more, but these are near the top of my list.

11 Comments:

  • February 11, 2010

    Regarding 1.

    The tool is just the tool. I have seen many knowledge tools within companies, but there seemed to be only a small percentage of ppl actually using it. How would E2.0 contribute to an increase in the use of these tools and actually build up this collaberative knowledge base?

  • February 11, 2010

    E2.0 contributes to knowledge tool adoption because people desire to share with each other, not push things into a tool. If you can create the culture and the platform that share with each other while leaving the bread crumbs behind for people to discover, you’re harnessing E2.0 to increase KM.

  • February 11, 2010

    Your observation is the same as with all large companies. They have all seen these things come and go and KM platforms fail due to take-up. The difference here is that traditional systems put the emphasis on collecting knowledge, which in itself is off putting. People don’t want to officially collect knowledge most of the time and the cognative overhead is too much.

    The difference with E2.0 is that the good tools with be useful to the user, in their flow and processes, thus gaining take up as a personal productivity tool. The more people find it useful the more in the system. The more people and the more information = network effects. Coupled with ease of use and social interfaces and you should see take up that will in turn build a collaborative knowledge base. Personally Essential, Collectively Critical.

    That being said, so many tools get it wrong, either in the interface or the shifting the focus to far from the ‘personal usage’.

  • Rachel Phillips
    February 11, 2010

    Scott

    Great question !

    I agree with your benefits, but I would also view this from the business perspective rather than individual. What does the business gain from the above. If applied to their business processes (which most exec’s can relate to) Accurate, effective and timely decision making: due to availability of knowledge internally/externally and the use of knowledge/identified experts and collective intelligence as a whole.

    Like the use of the title – Technology Director E2.0 !

    Rachel

  • February 11, 2010

    Ah Rachel, trust you to look at it from the exec’s perspective :) I agree the benefits will be different (at least in language used) for a management audience. After all, this is what will ultimately drive E2.0 adoption – senior exec buy in. I feel another post coming on to address this…

  • February 11, 2010

    Thanks for your reaction to my comments.
    Another part of the equation is changing as well, and that is people. Our perspective is changing which fits more into the E2.0 concept, and without that perspective there would be no E2.0.

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