Enterprise 2.0 – To infinity and Beyond!

Over the past ten weeks or so, every aspect of enterprise 2.0 has been looked over with a fine tooth comb. Including;

What is a blog?

How are companies using Web 2.0 to achieve enterprise objectives?

The Benefits and Risks of Enterprise 2.0 Implementation
Enterprise 2.0, A Legal Risk?

Corporate Use of Social Networks

The world of Wikis

Blogging and Micro Blogging, Good or Evil?

But now it is time to ask the big question, where is Enterprise 2.0 going in the future? Personally I think we have only just seen the beginning of Enterprise 2.0. Currently Web 2.0 tools are utilised in Enterprise for both internal and external purposes. Internally, Enterprise is using web 2.0 tools for the main purpose of collaboration and the sharing of information. It is without a doubt an excellent way to communicate and organise within an organisation. Externally, Enterprise 2.0 and web 2.0 tools are doing wonderful things for organisations. Advertising has entered a whole new realm through the use of social networking. Having a successful social networking page and extensive online presence is essential to having a successful business.

The Three Waves of Enterprise 2.0

In the future the importance placed on Enterprise 2.0 will only continue to grow. According to a recent report released by Forrester Research, “Social Networking tools and internal wikis will have the greatest impact on workplace collaboration” along side with “forums, RSS and mash ups” which all “have a future in the enterprise but are currently underused”.  Other predictions for the future of Enterprise 2.0 include the fact that the “cultural resistance” to social networks will “eventually break, allowing workers to connect with like-minded colleagues and enabling a collaboration channel that previously didn’t exist in enterprise.”

The net value of Enterprise 2.0 market is also set to boom, hitting $4.6 billion by 2013 if the current trend continues. On the flipside of this, the price of web 2.0 applications will dramatically fall. The result of this being that the cost to companies to incorporate web 2.0 will be so viable, that they would be silly to not get involved.

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Corporate Use of Social Networks

When you think that out of the 6,845,609,960 people in the world, 1,966,514,816 people make up the global online population and use the internet regularly, the internet reaches a lot of people. Social member communities are visited by 67% of the global online population according to Neilsen online. That is a ridiculous amount of people. So it is only natural that businesses should want to harness the benefits of reaching such a wide audience that utilising social networks can bring.

How are corporations actually using social networking?

Some corporations are using social netorking tools such as Facebook and micro blogging tool Twitter for promotion and advertisement. The companies make an official company profile on these sites, add as many ‘friends’ as possible on the sites and then shamelessly plug their products. An example of this companies such as;

Coca Cola

Red Bull

McDonalds

Nike

Myer

These are just five examples, if you log onto any social networking site you will see many corporations that have accounts in order to promote their products. Some corporations also use social networking sites to gather public opinion, or to harness the collective intelligence of consumers.

Dell is an awesome example of this, with their ideastorm site. The website is a wiki forum where consumers can post their ideas to Dell on how to improve their products and ideas for new products. This is then integrated with Facebook so that consumers can directly re-post their wiki post to Facebook and let all their friends know. This is extremely cleaver yet subtle advertising. By letting consumers have their say, and show their friends on social networks, it is the most powerful form of advertising – Word of Mouth.

A friend of mine works at a real estate agent, and as part of his job he has to have a ‘professional Facebook page’ were his picture is a professional photo of him in his uniform and he must post on his wall new house for sale and properties he has just sold, as well as add clients to his Facebook friends list. This is a more personal take on the advertising front, but still effective

Social networks can also be used by corporations internally as a means of communication between employees. Please see my blog – The benefits and Risks of Enterprise 2.0 for a case study on how Epitaph is using the private corporate social network ‘SocialText’ for internal corporate social networking.

Social networks may also be used by corporations in order to ‘scout’ and recruit new employees. Particulary on LinkedIn but also on Facebook. Many corporations will not hire an employee without scoping out the potential employees web profile, this eliminates a lot of mucking around in the hiring process. The flipside of this is employees need to watch what they post online, as it can social networking can also facilitate the firing process.

So what are the benefits of corporations using social networking?

  • In 2010, Social networking is a very viable part of any business, large or small. It is almost required that an online business have some type of connection in the social networking realm in order to avoid falling into the abyss
  • It by far is one of the few, almost guaranteed methods to grow and maintain a successful business online
  • Advertising! Social network presence is an excellent form of advertising, plus it’s free!
  • Do it yourself. Especially for a small business, they do not need to have extra knowledge and skills to carry out social networking for the business. It can all be learnt easily. The whole process is simple and easy.

And the pitfalls?

  • Online presence means instant feedback from consumers, not all feedback is good
  • A poor online profile can be a hindrance to a business’s image
  • If not updated frequently a company can look slack and out of touch

In my personal experience social networking can be a great thing. It is easy to keep in touch with old school friends, friends overseas and make plans with friends.  It makes it very easy to create events and send invites to things like birthday parties and weekend drinks. Facebook is also good for collaboration with Uni colleagues at times, to let them know about group assignment progress and such, as most people check there Facebook page daily.

Check out this video for further information!

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The world of Wikis

Wikis…You’ve probably heard the term, perhaps even used one (Wikipedia is most people’s first wiki experience, and probably the most common example), but what actually is a wiki?

A wiki is a website that anyone can edit, add text, add links, create new pages, and do and undo what others have done. A wiki is a collaborative production, and an excellent tool to use to harness the collective intelligence of many users.

If anyone can edit and delete information though, why aren’t most wikis a complete mess? Well because of social engineering, contributors are incentivized to be cooperative and helpful or face there post being removed. Wikis are monitored, so that un-suitable information can be quickly removed.

Wiki use is fast becoming a popular form of collaboration in corporations. QUT uses a wiki format for students to work in groups, and for tutors to share useful information. Other corporations such as Adobe Systems, Amazon.com, Intel, Microsoft and the FBI use wikis as well. Depending on the size of a corporation, they may add to or replace centrally-managed content management systems.

In a corporate format Wikis can be used for;

  1. Collecting Business and Technical Requirements
    2. Corporate Dictionary
    3. Meeting Agendas, Notes, Attendees, and Attachments
    4. Organizational and Professional Biography
    5. Status Reporting (Project, Personal, Program, Departmental)
    6. Release Notes and Issue Tracking
    7. Product and Service Documentation
    8. User Manuals, Guides, and Best Bets (Tips)
    9. Policies and Procedures
    10. Brainstorming, Innovation and Patent Processing (Many Eyes)
    11. Intranet Replacement
    12. Metrics Reporting
    13. Along with RSS, notification of upcoming Events or Announcements
    14. Error Reporting, Tracking, and Resolution
    15. Locating Like Minded or SME within the Enterprise

(Fifteen uses of a corporate Wiki)

Wikinomics - Replacing Email!

So what are some of the benefits of using a wiki?

  • Build up knowledge bases
  • Avoid e-mail overload
  • Allow all relevant information to be shared by people working on a given project
  • Store communication in one central location
  • Organizing Information
  • Building consensus, provides a framework for collaborative writing
  • Access rights and roles can be set. Users can be forbidden from viewing and/or editing given pages, depending on their department or role within the organization.

And the pitfalls?

  • Need to be monitored, to avoid useless information
  • Can contain mistakes and in-accuracies
  • People!

People are the main problem with wikis, as the people input the information. However this can be combated with the establishment of a positive culture.

This is a great article about The Downside of Wikis, well worth a read for further information!

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Blogging and Micro Blogging, Good or Evil?

The Explosion of Twitter over the past year or so has seen many companies eager to get into the trend of blogging and in particular, micro blogging to facilitate their business processes. And it’s taking off alright! “Social networking will replace email as the primary vehicle for communications for one in five businesses across the world”, IT research major Gartner said on Tuesday. The research firm also said that nearly half of the companies globally will start using micro blogging streams like Twitter in two years. There are two main types of Corporate Blogs, external and internal, for formal and in-formal purposes. Although in-formal corporate blogging can be quite risky.

The Age of MicroBlogging

External Blogs are a great way to publish company news, a place to solicit, feedback from customers and prospects about a new product or service, a channel to build up the expertise and ‘thought leadership’ of the company, another place to publish bits and pieces of useful information that don’t make it to the e-newsletter or print publications, a new breed of marketing collateral, much like a downloadable white paper, which can be hooked into the sales process.  There are two types of external blogging, formal and informal. A formal corporate blog, such as Google’s Blog which allows them to communicate with their users about official Google news, or an internal blogging

An External non-formal blog, where employees of a company may blog about the business. This is something to be wary of, not all press is good press. (Please refer to my blog, Enterprise 2.0, A Legal Risk? for a great example of non formal external blogging gone badly.)

Internal Blogs are behind a firewall, sometimes built through the company’s intranet and not accessible through a public URL. They are authored by employees or managers, sometimes even by the CEO or senior executives. Internal blogs can be used for project management, efficient communications and knowledge sharing. Internal Micro-blogging, is becoming the most popular type of blogging at the moment, companies use micro blogging to pass quick messages between staff.

Many companies are using Twitter for external blogging. Micro blogging can be used for;

  • Product pushing.

Kodak, which has a chief blogger (@kodakCB), wrote about how her company’s product was being used rather than giving blatant product pitch:

“Spent the weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival. Saw some great movies shot on Kodak film!”

  • Community Outreach

After Hurricane Gustav hit, Whole Foods (@wholefoods), the grocery store chain, kept people in the loop regarding their stores in the areas affected. One example:

“Louisiana update: Baton Rouge store open 10a-6p til further notice; we’re working on getting New Orleans stores open & will keep you posted.”

  • How-To and Service Questions

Some companies such as Comcast (@comcastcares) have begun assigning an employee to take customer questions over Twitter. This level of communication allows for a level of intimacy absent from corporate websites that offer FAQ sections of their site.

  • Humanizing the Head Honcho

CEOs are generally seen by the masses as big scary monsters who are not approachable, are out of touch and lousy bloggers because they don’t have the time. Micro blogging is changing this. In particular, micro blogging tool Twitter’s integration with mobile phones, allows executives to communicate with employees and customers, quickly and effectively. Jonathan Schwartz (@SunCEOBlog), and Tony Hsieh (@zappos) are two CEOs who are taking full advantage of micro blogging.

Twitter is just one example, which at the moment is the most relevant for external corporate blogging.  Internally, obviously Twitter is not the solution as it can be seen and read by the public. This is where platforms such as SocialText come in. These platforms offer all the benefits of micro blogging, but behind the secure company firewall. Strictly for employees eyes only.

A cool little slide show, blatant product pushing but informative non the less. The Corporate Blogging Go-to-guide.

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Enterprise 2.0, A Legal Risk?

Last week, we looked the possible benefits and risks associated with the use of Web 2.0 tools in a real life business. This week, I think we need to go further into the risk side of things, so let’s take a look at possible Legal risks of Enterprise 2.0.

Previously, I had thought that yes there are risks involved with businesses using the internet and in particular Web 2.0 technologies, but I had thought that these risks would’ve comprised mostly of security issues associated with sensitive information such as company plans, customer details, bank information etc.  However I have been doing a bit of reading this week, and it has been brought to my attention that these risks extend much further than just security issues. There can be legal implications and consequences from misuse of Web 2.0 technologies, unintentional or not.

Some of the articles I read were from Wikinomics,  Law Techology News, ITnews and a paper for Smart Service Queensland. I found these articles quite insightful into the legal issues of Web 2.0

Corporate Twitter

But what are the actual legal implications? Well even if companies are not using Web 2.0 specifically for their business processes, their employees and customers are. One example of employees using Web 2.0 inappropriately, Is the story of a New York flight attendant, who kept a blog of her life as a flight attendant. The blog was not an issue to the airline and was not brought to their attention until the flight attendant posted revealing photographs of herself wearing the company’s uniform.

The flight attendant – Ms. Simonetti, was fired for “inappropriate photos in a Delta uniform.” Since then, the flight attendant has filed a sex-discrimination complaint against the airline with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and is threatening to sue for $10 million. The flight attendant claims other employees, primarily men, have their photographs posted on the Web in uniform and are not fired for it. The airline declined to comment on the case.

“”Nonunion employees enjoy very little legal protection for their off-duty activities,” said J. H. Verkerke, professor of law and director of the Program for Employment and Labor Law Studies at the University of Virginia. Because the material is posted on the Web, privacy protections do not apply either, according to Mr. Verkerke.

Ms. Simonetti “cannot invoke the common law privacy doctrines because she posted these photos in a public place,” he said. “The employer didn’t have to search at all, except perhaps on Google, to find the images.”” (NY Times, 2004)

So what can we see from this example? Well employee’s private lives are not as private as they think; anything that is posted on the internet is public property.  The employee ultimately lost her job of the incident, and would obviously have trouble finding another job after this, seeing as the stigma is now something that will follow her for life. Also, the company looks bad, for having their employees act in this way, also that they had to fire the employee and then go through the legal issues of being sued.  Microsoft suffered a similar incident, when an employee posted an entry to his blog that detailed an upgrade to the Windows Mobile operating system (OS), and he included a link to a page where the upgrade could be downloaded. The only problem was the upgrade, Windows Mobile 6.1, was not supposed to be made publicly available for at least a couple more weeks.

How about another example, this time from the perspective of a company using Web 2.0? Most young employees have grown up with Web 2.0 in their personal lives, so when they come to work, they are expecting to have these tools available. This is why a lot of companies are turning to Web 2.0 for their business processes. However the increasing use of Web 2.0 creates a lot of new legal considerations.

One major issue is intellectual property rights. An example of this is Dell’s IdeaStorm, were they solicit ideas for product improvement from customers in an attempt to harness the collective intelligence. But who then owns the information?  These are just a couple of the legal issues that can arise.  In order to mitigate potential legal risks, with proper rules, constraints and security controls, that Web 2.0 can be used in a positive way within Enterprise.

“Innovative companies necessarily tolerate some legal uncertainty while the law catches up with new business practices, but three best practices can reduce the legal risks of Web 2.0 developments:

1. Establish clear company policies. Inappropriate content posted on a company-sponsored Web site can subject the company to legal claims. For example, Continental Airlines was held liable for harassment based on postings on an online employee bulletin board. Blakey v. Continental Airlines, Inc., 751 A.2d 538 (N.J. 2000). Because it would be impossible to detail all the scenarios that might arise from Web 2.0 interactions, policies should establish broad principles that guide employees.

2. Develop Appropriate Terms of Use. Clear terms of use or terms of service, which establish the rules of conduct for a Web site, are another effective way to minimize risk arising from Web 2.0 applications. Because many Web 2.0 sites solicit ideas from customers or employees, ownership of ideas and intellectual property is a key area for Web 2.0 terms of service.

3. Take advantage of legal protections in Web site design. Another best practice is to consider whether the design or operation of the Web 2.0 site can be developed to take advantage of legal protections under the Communications Decency Act (47 U.S.C. § 230) or the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512).” (Law Technology News, 2008)

This is a video from the American Bar Association about whether or not anyone can really control content on the internet.

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The Benefits and Risks of Enterprise 2.0 Implementation

For todays delve into the world of Enterprise 2.0, we are going to be looking at the risks and benefits of Enterprise 2.0 implementation. Whilst I could talk for days about the many benefits (enhancing: productivity and efficiency; knowledge, reputation and staff engagement) and potential risks (security; loss of control; reputation; reliability; productivity; and resources) of Enterprise 2.0 implementation, Wouldn’t it be more fun to see the REAL LIFE impact on a REAL company, and what they had to go through to achieve their successes in the digital business age?

Epitaph Records is a good example of Enterprise 2.0 Implementation gone right. Founded in Los Angles in the early 90’s by Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz, Epitaph Records was started with the aim of being an artist-friendly label. Despite their successes with gold and multi-platinum bands on their label such as Rancid, NOFX and The Offspring, Epitaph managed to stay independent and true to their roots. But as the internet became more and more popular in the new millennium and bands were able to access low cost “do it yourself” recording and distribution options, Epitaph’s traditional role of the record company was threatened. They needed a way to embrace the new technologies, and stay ahead of the game. This is when Epitaph turned to Enterprise 2.0. They implemented an Enterprise 2.0 program called SocialText.

Epitaph Records

Epitaph Records was founded by Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz, with the aim of starting an artist-friendly label from a musician’s point of view. Perhaps most well known for being the little indie from L.A. that spawned the 90s punk explosion, Epitaph stayed independent even while breaking gold and multi-platinum acts such as The Offspring, Rancid, NOFX, and Bad Religion. However, as low cost, “do it yourself” recording and distribution options started to become available to artists, the traditional role of the record company started to be threatened. But artists need more than just recording and distribution. Epitaph specializes in meeting all the needs of recording artists, from facilitating their creative vision for album packaging, to delivering customized state-of-the-art marketing campaigns, to cataloging and archiving the album once it’s finished. That requires collecting huge amounts of data and acting on an infinite number of details and decisions.

The problems Epitaph faced were;

  • Keeping costs down
  • Managing the end-to-end marketing process
  • Organizing multiple projects with a small staff whilst keeping the business running
  • Ensuring creative ideas and important details not stored for easy retrieval and that they do not get lost
  • Enable communications Giving people in different divisions access to the information they needed

To manage all this and to revolutionize their business, Epitaph turned to Socialtext. Socialtext is an all inclusive Enterprise 2.0 platform, which allows business to manage every aspect of their business online. “As the Enterprise 2.0 leader, Socialtext applies Web 2.0 technologies such as enterprise microblogging, enterprise social networking and wikis to the critical challenges facing businesses. Socialtext’s enterprise collaboration platform allows employees to share expertise, speed workflows and get their jobs done faster (Socialtext, 2010)”.

Social Text

Benefits that Epitaph experienced directly from the implementation of Enterprise 2.0 within their business were;

  • Employees are less stressed
  • Employees able to perform their jobs more effectively
  • Employees have instantaneous access to all the information they need
  • Clients (Recording artists) report higher satisfaction thanks to more personal service, custom project management, and timely, in-depth reporting
  • Company (Epitaph) saves time and money with quick development of new business processes
  • Continuous improvement of existing processes

Epitaph found that they experienced many benefits from the implementation of Enterprise 2.0.  Epitaph Records CEO Brett Gurewitz said “To justify why record companies exist in this digital age, we have to provide value across the entire marketing process, including publicity, promotion, and project management. Socialtext helps us organize and share the vast amounts of information this requires.” All these benefits though, do not come risk free.

The change from Enterprise 1.0 to Enterprise 2.0 included the potential risks of security breaches, loss of control, damages to reputation, lack of reliability and loss of productivity. Epitaph was very careful in their roll out of the new product, and they managed to avoid most of these risks, resulting in great successes for the business.

Here is a video with some more information and a more detailed look at the SocialText Enterprise 2.0 Program.

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How are companies using Web 2.0 to achieve enterprise objectives?

Having had a fair bit of previous experience with Web 2.0, I decided that this week I would look into the ways the companies are using Web 2.0 to achieve enterprise objectives and how organisations are using Enterprise 2.0 principles in significant ways.

The use of Web 2.0 is becoming a more and more common way for companies to collaborate and connect people together. Companies are using Web 2.0 tools both internally as a way to organize employees and externally, as a way of communicating with the public for various reasons such as marketing and advertising, to harnessing the collective intelligence. These Web 2.0 technologies, which rely on user collaboration, include Web services, peer-to-peer networking, blogs, podcasts, and the use of online social networks. Websites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are very commonly being used to reach customers.

Many companies are embracing Web 2.0

So what are some of the benefits of using Web 2.0 in a business, rather than following a more traditional business model? Well…

  • Internal collaboration

Makes employees more effective in their collaboration and tasks and data are able to be shared and used instantaneously.

  • External collaboration

Companies can Market and Advertise in new and innovative ways which make companies stand out to their customers and suppliers, increasing business and profit

  • Increased efficiency

Web 2.0 is about working smart, rather than working hard. Not only is it more efficient for communications, but web 2.0 is a lot ‘greener’ and more sustainable then traditional business processes.

  • Support the move beyond email

Although useful for a one off personal message, Email is very dysfunctional for collaboration and is inefficient for use with large groups. For example, emails in a large group situation often end up lost or confused as there is not one central message location.

  • Distributed work

Communication is fast and inexpensive. Makes communication between different branches/cities/countries fast! Reduces travel time. Makes outsourcing to lower cost economies possible.

  • Faster innovation

Collaboration, customer involvement and reaching the global market is possible and very fast

Now let’s look at some examples of companies using web 2.0 in enterprise.

And that’s only just the tip of the iceberg! There are many other examples out there. The merge from traditional enterprise to enterprise 2.0 has been more of a slow wade rather than a leap off the cliff, as many companies learnt from the Dot Com crash to be wary of the internet, the companies that have been getting involved are finding it very worthwhile. It is very common place for companies to have a Facebook page.

In my own experience, I work for a large retailer in the youth fashion department, and whilst working we have to wear badges on our lanyards that say “Check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr”. It is astounding to see how web 2.0 is affecting enterprise, and it will be interesting to see the future development of the trend.

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