The book presented an overview and description of several new technologies, focusing on the similarities among them and how companies have been applying them to be more successful. The author was originally a skeptic of the term "Web 2.0" but through research and direct case studies realized there was much value in the new technologies and a clear shift in how people were working because of them. The author got so deep into them that he was the original person who coined the term "Enterprise 2.0" and went on to write many articles for general managers to learn how to incorporate these tools.
Part 1: The Power of Collaborative Technology in Business
This part first went through four case studies and presented the "problem" they were facing (solution described later).
As VistaPrint's team grew rapidly, their engineering team need a way to bring new hires up to speed quickly, and so they desperately needed a thorough knowledge base.
2. Serena Software
Serena had a majority of its workforce telecommuting, and it was struggling in unifying its team and meeting aggressive goals that required cohesive team effort and creativity, all while operating from a distance.
3. 9/11 Commission
The Commission found that the biggest reason for failing to thwart the 9/11 attacks was the lack of information sharing across agencies. A new initiative driven by technology and more guided sharing won the intelligence community's Galileo Award and promises to help in this regard in the future.
An engineer at Google was inspired by the book The Wisdom of Crowds and various electronic prediction markets like Iowa's Markets and the Hollywood Stock Exchange. These exchanges that aggregated many opinions were found to be more accurate than experts. This engineer created an internal betting system within Google that ended up producing internal product and engineering forecasts even more accurate than those of its senior staff.
Computer Supported Collaborative Software (CSCW)
In the beginning, there were two fairly unpopular approaches to collaborative software. The first was groupware, mainly in the form of Lotus Notes, and the second was over-generalized knowledge management systems, which aimed to create highly structured and overly controlled databases of knowledge. Then came Web 2.0.
The key to success of the new wave of technologies was network effects. The platforms were free and easy, and the structure was not defined in advance. This was evident in the Nupedia to Wikipedia transition, Yahoo's initial classification/taxonomy going away, and the advent of Delicious's freeform tagging model.
The concept these systems used was to let structure emerge naturally, like Google's PageRank algorithm and tag cloud "Folksonomies" (taxonomies generated by folks). These used the concept called "emergence" as defined by research that studied swarm intelligence and ant colony substructure. The key to success of any such system is to have some adequate minimal set of rules and provide fast, full feedback to users. This is what allows these new systems, called "emergent social software platforms" (ESSPs) to grow.
Other characteristics of CSCWs are that they're optional (not imposed on people) and inherently free of imposed structure. They feel egalitarian and are accepting of different types of data. The key capabilities in the systems are search, links, authoring, tags, extensions/smart recommendations/suggestions, and signals for new content.
Enterprise 2.0, thus, is defined as the use of emergent social software in organizations in pursuit of their goals.
New approaches to old problems
- Tie strength: analysis of networks of people in companies to quantify strength of relationships
- Weak ties are good bridges between networks and important for collaboration
- Weak ties reduce information search costs
- Problems with version control, simultaneous editing; wikis solve this
- VistaPrint's solution: engineering training wiki
- Created initial structure of articles but left them blank for others to write actual article content
- Serena's solution: Facebook Fridays (pictures and streaming video to connect with telecommuting colleagues)
- Dunbar number: social networking sites might allow people to exceed this theoretical ceiling on the number of stable social relationships
- Value of knowledge sharing space grows by square of links: value not just in content but in # of links
- 9/11 Commission's solution: CIA Galileo award given wiki and blog to help intelligence community (Intellipedia)
- Social networking sites strengthen weak ties
- Value in connecting people with other people, not with virtual content
- Google's solution: implemented prediction markets, met accuracy goals
- Group editing: Wikis. cloud documents, keep systems as open as possible
- Authoring: public sharing, blogging
- Broadcast search: posting of queries in public forum for people to answer, like Quora, innoCentive, Yahoo Answers
- Network formation and maintenance: social networks, value more from connections to new people and spanning structural holes than content
- Collective intelligence: wisdom of crowds concepts
- Self-organization: search results
Part 2: Succeeding with Enterprise 2.0
Red Herring Concerns
- No use or overuse?
- Direct control surrender?
- Inappropriate behavior or content? Company intranets are attributed /non-anonymous. Companies already self-policing, with managers intervening and watching behavior already.
- Issues with compliance with international laws?
- Reduce risks over email and IM which are much more closed off and apt for misuse
- Case study: CIO of Dresdner
- Case study: Director of National Intelligence accepted Intellipedia
- Loss aversion
- People evaluate things in relative, not absolute terms
- Changing behavior means giving up something now which feels worse than the benefit of the new product later
- Product must be 10 times better to get adoption
- 9x gap: incumbents overweight benefits of current solutions by 3x, and innovators overweight benefits of new solutions by 3x
- Turn off old tools
- Use believers
- "In the flow" ESSPs get more adoption than "above the flow"
- Can't put clear concrete value or ROI to investment; people, knowledge, and technology create intangible value that indirectly allows business strategy execution to proceed more efficiently
- Instead look at costs and timelines, benefits/examples of deployments/case studies
- Analyze a technology's footprint: coverage of tech
- Tighter bonds with organization
- Challenges: some don't want transparency, sometimes difficult to implement solutions
- Stops concealment of project problems and delays and bad organizational politics; now people have to deal with this in the open
- Technology becomes a competitive differentiator