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The rise of the networked enterprise

December 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve come across an interesting McKinsey article on the rise of the networked enterprise where web technologies are being deployed to improve corporate performance. The survey offers several interesting findings that support an organisations adoption of this technology for productivity improvement.

According to McKinsey, the networked enterprises which proactively collaborate with both internal & external stakeholders report significant performance improvements and operational efficiencies. Some of the findings assert that the take up of Enterprise 2.0 technologies continues to grow with up to 40% of companies surveyed maintaining some form of social networks. Of these organisations, almost half believe that most of their Employees are actively engaged with the technology. This number can only continue to rise in the future as the demarcation between personal and professional use of these applications continues to blur. What’s encouraging is that more organisations have indicated that planned expenditure on Enterprise 2.0 technologies will be higher than in prior years.

Some of the measurable benefits listed in the report are more tangible than others but all indicate a degree of improvement over previous years:
• Speed of access to knowledge and subject matter experts
• Reduction in communication, operational & travel costs
• Increased innovation, customer satisfaction and revenue
Overall these metrics present the view that Enterprise 2.0 technologies are both taking hold within organisations and are now offering real benefits year on year. For this trend to continue, emerging technologies and consequently new ways of doing business must continue to be adopted.

A key finding from this Survey is that integration with organisational day-to-day activities is critical to the successful uptake/implementation and benefits realisation of Enterprise 2.0. Those organisations using social technologies internally benefit from improved process agility, knowledge sharing and collaboration across the business. Obviously organisations that embrace their entire internal and external networks benefit from a high degree of collaboration and stronger relationships amongst staff, customers & partners through improved information flows.

To measure any improvements in reported performance metrics, McKinsey have presented three core indicators and their findings –
1. Market share gains – correlation with networked organisations
2. Higher operating margins – aligns with more granular decision making and organisational agility
3. Market leadership – supported by the internal use of Enterprise 2.0

From these metrics, McKinsey make the observation that as fully networked organisations (internally & externally connected) apply the lessons learnt from prior stakeholder interactions to future relationships, their competitive advantage will improve. This study supports what we have been saying for some time now; incorporate collaborative applications, drive their usage, attack organisational silos and embrace external stakeholders. Will be interesting to see next year’s statistics…

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Categories: Enterprise 2.0, web 2.0

The Adoption of Social Computing in the Enterprise

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

This whitepaper by Nicholas Evans (UNISYS) succinctly describes the current state of the organisational social technology landscape. As identified by Nicholas we are on the cusp of an information revolution where connections between geographically dispersed individuals will become a valuable corporate asset. This dynamic shift in the application of collaborative technologies must be recognised & incorporated into corporate strategies now to harness the full benefits of this movement.

I agree with his statement that “Along with cloud computing and next generation mobile computing, social computing is perhaps one of the top three most disruptive technologies making its way into the enterprise.” This is a movement that cannot be ignored, but must be effectively managed to guide both internal & external organisational collaboration in a direction that adds benefit and minimises any associated risk. Nicholas discusses two drivers to adoption namely the generational effect of younger staff merging the use of social technology in both their personal & professional lives for benefits obvious to the modern knowledge worker. Secondly, organisations are recognising the productivity & relationship benefits of establishing strong connections between employees, customers and Vendors, an emerging trend now understood by CIO’s and other enterprise architecture decision makers.

A four phase technology adoption/adaption lifecycle is presented. i.e. how an organisation may adopt/adapt an emerging technology to suit the changing needs of the enterprise so that ultimately it is embedded and ubiquitous. The four components of this cycle are summarised as:
1. Off-the-shelf solutions – the use of Facebook & Twitter like applications without modification to establish a social network presence.
2. Enterprise Class platforms – the deployment of maturing organisationally focused social computing platforms created for knowledge management and innovation practices
3. Integration with existing Enterprise applications and processes – it may be possible to enhance existing legacy applications with collaborative tools to reduce decision cycle times and improve exception handling protocols.
4. Pervasive and embedded capabilities – the incorporation of social technologies as a standard feature of mainstream enterprise wide applications.

Nicholas provides a nice summary of the benefits of social technology as enabling “users to build new bridges across human collaboration, to integrate structured and
unstructured information, and to optimize business processes and transactions”.

A brave new world is upon us…though some questions remain –
* What is current best practice application of enterprise wide social computing for process improvement?
* How can this technology be deployed/governed/measured?
* What are the software vendors offering in this space at the moment?
* What are the blockers to adoption & risk factors? How can these be addressed?
* Any defined approaches to retention & reuse of collaborative knowledge?

Sounds like a good PhD research project!