Manhole 1 & 2 - Enterprise 2.0

...continued from Open Manholes - Enterprise 2.0

Manhole 1: Wrong team/person for the initiative or right people with not enough support from top executives.

If you are going to undertake an Enterprise 2.0 initiative, it matters alot who you task with getting the job done. This has the potential to be a business transformation issue as much as anything, and it will require the full support of the top executives.

Action-oriented, consensus-builders with a fully supported mandate need to be the core of your team. Rocket science? Nope. Often screwed up anyway? Yup.

Manhole 2: Assuming the decisions to be made are merely technology choices rather than viewed as an enterprise change initiative.

There's a widespread misconception (propagated by too many technology vendors) that if you throw enough technology at business problems you will defeat them. It would be great if it were that easy. Unfortunately, research does not support this view.

This is especially true in emerging, or hype-filled markets like ERP or CRM where vendors create unusually high levels of client dissatisfaction by: under-educating customers, making unsubstantiated claims, being sales-driven rather than customer-driven, being imitative rather than innovative and implementing inflexible systems poorly.5

Product companies are completely focused on selling what they have. What they have is technology. And their capital requirements mean they need short payback on their acquisitions and sales efforts. So rather than sell what companies really need, they sell what they have. None of this should come as a surprise. But as the saying goes, "the problem with common sense is it's not that common."

The real problem is that companies are expecting any return on information technology at all. What drives a return on investment is the use of information technology. Technology on it's own can not deliver increased productivity, only the use of it can.6 This may seem like splitting hairs, but it makes an enormous difference to how enterprises approach the selection and implementation of Enterprise 2.0 projects.

Wanda Orlikowski, a professor and researcher from MIT, draws a distinction between "espoused technologies" (the technologies we buy and install into our offices, factories and homes) and "technologies-in-use" (the technologies we use in our action).

Espoused technologies are the bundles of sophisticated hardware and software components that provide a given set of predefined features available consistently over time and place.

Technologies-in-use are the specific features we engage with in particular ways depending on our skills, tasks, attention and purposes, and varying by time of day, situation at hand, and pressures of the moment.7

What we buy is given and predefined (espoused technology); what we engage through our use is contingent and local (technology-in-use). The two are not the same, and managing and measuring the former as if it were the latter can lead to conceptual and practical difficulties.8

...to be continued...

5. CRM Guru.com, High-Yield Marketing, Mangen Research Associates, "Multi-Function
CRM Software: How Good Is It?", October 2001
6. W.J. Orlikowski, "Managing Use not Technology: A View from the Trenches," Financial Times, March 22, 1999, pp. 10-11
7. Ibid
8. W.J. Orlikowski and J.D. Hofman, "An Improvisational Model for Change Management: The Case of Groupware Technologies," Sloan Management Review, 38,2, Winter 1997: pp. 11-21

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