By Heather Angus-Lee

Imagine working at a global leader in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software that makes and markets software enabling employee collaboration for streamlined business processes. It must be one highly efficient, “Enterprise 2.0” workplace, right? Umm, not at all: I worked there, up until the last month of 2006.

Within said company, the staff sent content to each other by email (content saved in various versions on individuals’ drives), or even dropped hard-Rob Clark illustrationcopy off on their desks. They produced software for virtual team meetings and project collaboration of staff anywhere in the world… but strictly restricted their laptop-and-IM-enabled employees from telecommuting.

With no wiki, blog or effective intranet in place, things ran amuck, regularly, with tangled lines of communication; the North American hand couldn’t follow the European hand, the wheel got reinvented… I think you get the picture. (Shoemaker’s kids wear no shoes.)

This irony did not escape the attention of worker bees like me in the global marketing department, responsible for packaging, with pretty words and pictures, the company’s expensive and elaborate ECM solutions (including its spawn, BPM, CCM, KM, DM, etc.)

In fact, one fellow writer took our “shoeless” situation the hardest: Her previous employer was a buyer of these ECM solutions, and she lamented losing the very collaborative tools she now wrote about.

“Tell me again about the document versioning feature,” I’d implore her as I struggled to keep track of the rewrite notes of five executives on the same brochure copy. (And what, really, could be better for ‘doc versioning’ than a wiki!? Encouragingly, the month I was leaving, the company began working on its first, small, non-obligatory wiki for employees so they could share best practices.)

These days my boss at Social Media Goup is talking with another huge enterprise software provider that really wants to be at the Enterprise 2.0 party – maybe even host it. This new client is looking at us to provide strategy and research around how they can leverage social media to improve communications and collaboration among their vast, global staff.

It’s a trend we expect to see gain momentum in 2008: the corporate world’s desire to adopt the power of social media beyond the outward-facing promotion/public relations function, and turn it inward for equally impressive productivity results.

OK, so Enterprise 2.0 is not sexy – or not as sexy as, say, reaching out to the coolest bloggers and Facebook group leaders to jaw about your product/service. But it does bring your coworkers together for free thinking and innovation not currently possible on a day-to-day basis. Enterprise 2.0 is the most powerful way to manage unpredictable (and hugely productive) things that happen on the job.

Get this (office) party started…!

Cartoon credit: Rob Clark

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3 Comments

  1. I love telling the story of how we had a “social media underground” running at our place. We had VMWare running all these instances of linux, where we built our internal blogs, wikis, and virtual shared spaces. The IT department could only sniff that we were running VMWare, but couldn’t see into the virtual containers, so they had no idea.

    We’d run faster and better than those relegated to email and file servers, but it was never condoned. My old company got bought by an Indian company after a bunch of weirdness.

    Related? I’ll pretend they are.

  2. What platforms do you recommend for a corporation looking to better leverage the power of social media? We’ve got sharepoint in-house which is a good intranet tool… but what else is recommended to create and manage internal colloboration?

    Finally – do any of them extend their reach into mobile?

  3. Heather, it’s a classic case of “the cobbler’s children”. I’ve worked in more than one organisation myself that did great things for its clients in consulting or product terms but utterly failed to do the same for itself. It’s incredibly frustrating, as your anecdote reveals.

    It always seems the case that in organisations where consultant utilisation or unit sales are the management measure of success, the ability to get something done is a poor cousin as resources can’t be assigned to making it happen.

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