by Jon Husband
McKinsey, a leading organizational consulting firm, has just released its most recent study regarding the usage of Web 2.0.
From a read of the announcement, it appears that collectively we are still on the path towards social computing becoming a fixture in the knowledge-based workplace … hardly a surprise.
Across all categories, the use of Web 2.0 technologies by employees for internal purposes has increased from 53% in 2007 to 65% of respondents in 2009.
The largest components of growth have come from using Web 2.0 to develop new products / services internally, to manage internal knowledge and to reinforce the company culture via tools such as internal social networking applications.
The companies who have embedded these tools in their day-to-day activities and processes have seen the largest impact by improving communication across silos to reduce duplicate work and leverage experts in other areas.
The report goes on to say that enterprise use of Web 2.0 technologies to connect and interact with business partners and suppliers has slowed down or stagnated … again, not much of a surprise given the often transactional nature of those relationships and the fact that electronic connections between those parties have existed in one form or another for quite some time now.
Finally, the McKinsey report outlines what for many has become an item of faith about social computing in / by the enterprise.
The momentum we see in the growth of Web 2.0 technologies implies we will see higher penetration in 2010 for using these technologies for employees to collaborate and to facilitate interactions with customers.
To drive increased usage for managing interactions with suppliers and partners, companies will need to find ways use these technologies to augment the formal relationships between business entities and not substitute formal interactions with more ad hoc ones.
Nonetheless, it is clear that expertise in the use of Web 2.0 technologies is becoming a required skill for all enterprises.
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by Dawn Rivers Baker
The following is a guest post by Dawn Rivers Baker, a member of the Small Business Trends Expert Network.
At this point, you probably don’t need me to run through the litany of woes that hit the U.S. economy during the second half of 2008 and prompted fears of the End of Capitalism As We Know It.
Nothing quite so dire has transpired since then, of course, but I think it’s safe to say that we’re living through economically game-changing times. The challenge for all of us will be to evaluate what those changes are and respond appropriately — as consumers, as business owners, as policy makers, and as students of the economy.
Since I look at everything through a microbusiness lense, I’ve been understandably curious about how recent events might have changed the game for them. My conclusion: they have but they haven’t.
I think that the biggest changes for the largest segment of microbusinesses are still to come. I’m talking about nonemployers.
Nonemployers are outfits with no paid workers outside the business owner(s). There seem to be as many names for these firms as there are people to write about them: freelancers, independent contractors, the self-employed, sole proprietors, soloists, personal businesses, side businesses, SOHO businesses, and more. I prefer to use the term ‘nonemployer,’ for the simple reason that it is the most accurate.
From March 2006 through March 2007, the number of nonemployers rose from 20.8 million to 22.4 million, a 4.5% increase. In the context of U.S. business population growth, that’s a pretty large increase (the annual average for all U.S. firms is 2-3%) and it continues a trend that we’ve been watching since the turn of the century.
Almost all the growth in U.S. firms during that eight-year period has been growth in nonemployers. Their numbers are simply exploding, up 41% since the Census Bureau started its annual nonemployer nose counts back in 1997. As of 2006, they were 77.5% of all U.S. firms.
Now, what is interesting about those numbers is what they imply.. Back in January, I predicted in this article that, after a lackluster 1.6% increase in number during the 2005-2006 period, “we will see a return of the 4-6% growth in nonemployer numbers that we saw during the last recession” this year.
But that’s not what has happened. Instead, nonemployers had returned to those strong growth numbers by early 2007, before this recession had even started. Under the circumstances, it may very well be that we’ll be seeing annual increases of 5-10% in the 2008 and 2009 nonemployer numbers.
Policy makers and economists are inclined to ignore nonemployers at this point because the economic mantra is ‘jobs, jobs, jobs!’ The National Bureau of Economic Research based its declaration of the start of the recession in December 2007 on the onset of job losses and the assumption (probably erroneous) is that we won’t be out of this recession until we start growing jobs again.
And, of course, nonemployers are not going to help with that effort, by definition.
But nonemployer businesses are not just businesses. They are also newly-created jobs — self-created jobs. They represent the efforts of American citizens to solve their own economic problems without waiting for our would-be caretakers in either the public or privates sector to do it for them.
As of this moment, new nonemployers are almost the only still- functioning engine of job creation our economy has left. Our nation’s leaders seem to be having trouble wrapping their minds around the concept of self-created jobs and there are ways in which our government quietly discourages self-employment (as opposed to the creation of new employer firms).
So, what happens if businesses are faced with a need to expand capacity and turn to independent contractors and microbusinesses instead of creating full-time jobs? Because of the way the Labor Department collects and publishes employment data, it will look like the economy is still losing jobs when it’s not, really.
As of 2007, nonemployers comprised almost 15% of the civilian workforce and that percentage has probably increased significantly in 2008 and 2009 as more employees got laid off and more individuals started nonemployer businesses. What happens if the nonemployer business begins to jostle the regular, full-time worker in the labor market? What happens in the nonemployer model actually begins to replace the traditional employment transaction?
It’s worth thinking about because, for all we know, that may be happening right now.
About the Author: Dawn Rivers Baker, an award-winning small business journalist, regularly reports and analyzes small business policy and research as the Publisher of the MicroEnterprise Journal, where the nation’s business meets microbusiness. She also publishes the Journal Blog.
by Patti Anklam
I’d saved a wonderful story by Michael Idinopulos of Socialtext about how moving from a shared space to private offices (What my Granddaddy Taught me about Information Flow). In the days before computers, brokers worked in a large open space in which information moved vary rapidly from one end of the floor to another. When the office layout was changed to give more people private offices and people began focusing their attention on their PCs, people “…lost the ability to communicate, and nobody had the slightest idea what was going on.”
You can’t read the story, of course without catching on that the open office floor in which information moves in waves is a lot like Web 2.0. From our PC (and Mac!) silos, we are finally liberated and can catch the breath of new ideas rolling over our shared spaces. This is happening, outside.
Inside, adoption of Web 2.0 tools is not so much of a wave as a trickle. Inside companies, managers think about technologies in terms of security (bring it inside) and cost (it costs money to maintain something inside, so we can’t let people use free tools. [Hat tip to John Bordeaux for pointing to the irony in this story.]).
Inside, we deal with a series of waves, incremental introductions of technology and Web 2.0 services and look for the best way to encourage adoption. I’m guilty myself of responding to clients’ reason for lack of adoption as “the culture” when it can often be the manner in which the new tool was introduced, or a lack of attention to the user interface/experience.
Adoption and culture being very much on my mind, I was interested to see Hutch Carpenter‘s post in the Social Computing Journal Enterprise 2.0: Culture is as Culture Does. He argues that most companies are ready for social software at least to the extent that they acknowledge that employees are their most important asset.
He goes on to put together a wonderful graphic illustrating two paths to adoption of social tool pilots. He anchors the flow chart by two decision points.
- Defined use case? is the determinant of whether adoption goes in an official or a viral flow. This assumes that a well-defined use case has proven business value and that undefined use cases may not. I agree that for a successful pilot in an organization, the defined “use case” must be centered around teams or groups that are engaged in some joint activity that requires flow of information.
- Exceed expectations? is the measurement that occurs when the two flows come back together and employee feedback has been processed. This decision point really implies that there is a funding decision to be made at this point.
Enterprise 2.0: Pilot Deployment Flow
There’s some good stuff in this diagram, and it’s flexible enough for adapting to specific circumstances. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if, at the dawn of the PC era, Michael’s Granddaddy had through to work through the use cases of how PCs would affect the information flow on the trading floor.
by Shiv Singh
At the Razorfish 9th Annual Client Summit, I presented five big ideas for social influence marketing. These were ideas that I felt would matter in the next two years. The audience for the presentation was 600 senior marketers but the ideas I emphasized have relevance to all decision makers within an organization. Here’s the presentation with the five ideas. Let me know what you think.
by Jon Husband
Fellow networked-world thinker, theorist and author Ross Dawson and colleagues carried out research sponsored by IBM about the views of australian executives regarding the use of social networks and social computing in the enterprise.
The report titled “Enterprise Social Network Strategy” was released in November 2008. That seems like forever-ago in today’s world … hardly fresh news, but it had not come to my attention until now, and I think it’s still quite germane given that we’re somewhere in the early stages of a massive shift in the way organizations carry out work and deal with ongoing change.
Here, excerpted from his blog post announcing the release of the report, are some quoted views from the Australian executives.
Quotes from senior Australian executives in the report include:
“Our trial of social networks is going exceptionally well – there is very positive feedback from employees. They see it as a personal touch that improves their enjoyment of the work environment.”
“What if I have one of my best performers spending an hour a day on Facebook – do I really want to stop them?”
“We’ve pretty much taken the view that most people come to work to do a good job.”
“The whole organisation is about collaboration. So the area of social networks is really critical for us, particularly if we want to provide a seamless service delivery to the client.”
“The credit crunch has been a good thing. In good times it takes organisations a long time to look at new things but in times of difficult business we are more ready to see that we need to consider change. The way we market our products is going to be different.”
“For Gen Y, social networking is much more open than traditional computing. Look at gaming. They have a collective mindset – achieving common goals is more important to them. They either win together or they don’t win. ”
“We don’t have a single employee that is not highly computer literate. Everyone is on Facebook.”
“We are serious about finding ways to engage people. We have to compete for talent.”
“The way products and services are sold in our industry will be vastly different to how it is done today”
“We have an evolving strategy. Fail fast and cheap. We’re finding that’s the best strategy.”
The report can be freely downloaded from:
by Shiv Singh
Last year a group of renowned scholars and business leaders got together to discuss the future of management. Organized by Gary Hamel of the Harvard Business School, the two day event was designed to think the fundamental principles, processes and practices of management that will drive success in the future. The group identified shared beliefs and after much contentious deliberation also “moonshots of management.”
The shared beliefs included the notion that management is one of humankind’s most important social technologies, a recognition that current management models are seriously out of date and third that management must be reorganized to become more adaptable, innovative and inspiring places to work. Of the 25 moonshots of management, a few stood out for me which I’m discussing here. You can find the complete list on Gary Hamel’s blog.
1) To ensure that management’s work serves a higher purpose both in theory and in practice. It must be oriented towards the achievement of significant and noble goals. This makes obvious sense as management is always a means and never an end unto itself. However, a critical question is whether managers are incentivized to genuinely think in terms of significant and noble goals and measure themselves against these higher purposes. Would you say that of AIG for example? Does the stock market reward companies that do? I’m not so sure.
2) Fully embed the ideas of community and citizenship into management systems. This is defined as the need for processes and practices that reflect the interdependence of all stakeholder groups. I would argue that by defining it that way, the embedding is not going far enough. The management systems need to be an amebic translation of the communities from which they rise and in turn serve. Thanks to communication technologies those stakeholder groups aren’t static and nor are their perceptions of the organizations. The community is a lot closer to the organization than ever before.
3) De-structure and disaggregate the organization. This one is explained as the need to become more adaptable and innovative by disaggregating larger entities into smaller, more malleable units. I respectfully disagree with this notion, With the advent of advanced web based communication technologies, the social media revolution and the flow of ideas between organizations and into them, the size of the organization matters less. It is more important to allow for the natural flow of information, the organic creation, evolution and dissolution of social networks and for emergent, situational mechanisms to support this malleability. It is not a question of big versus small.
4) Create a democracy of information is another interesting one and is explained as developing holographic information systems that equip every employee to act in the interest of the entire organization. This is important and I would argue necessary to simply hold onto the most talented employees. However, I would argue that the point is not to develop a new information system rather than to provide access to the information or the “company APIs” so that employees can create their own information systems, leverage third party ones as they choose and then act in the best interest of the entire organization. A little more letting go is needed here.
5) Depoliticize decision-making which is defined as allowing decision making processes to be free of positional biases and done in a manner that taps into the collective wisdom of the entire organization. Here’s another one that I’d say is a touch naive. You cannot depolitize decision-making as long as you have the company as an organizing unit with corporate hierarchies in place. To try to depolitize is unrealistic. It is better to start by encouraging employees to declare their politics and recognize how their own decision making is influenced by their positional biases. Tapping into the collective wisdom is important but it too can only be successful when the biases are revealed.
So how doe these five points relate to technology and workplace productivity? Because a lot of these issues are contested, negotiated and enacted within the digital environments of large organizations. Whether the decision making is taking place in a collaborative workspace, information is being shared via a wiki, organizational units are being formed or ideas are being harnessed on an intranet, these all happen digitally through the electronic culture of an organization. These thoughts are also posted at Going Social Now.
by Celine Roque
Policing employees to ensure network security is tough enough for IT, but when the risk is way up on top, it compounds the whole situation. Company executives usually hold the most sensitive data in an organization, and according to an article on New Scientist, they are also the most vulnerable to threats. One of the reasons for this is that it’s difficult to get them to adhere to IT policies, such as the prohibition of unauthorized software. As Pentagon expert Glenn Zimmerman put it, “But woe betide the lowly IT director that would inconvenience the CEO with such restrictions.”
Yael Shahar, a cyberwar analyst from Israel, suggested that IT personnel should hack these executive’s computers from within the network, if only to prove a point (desperate times call for desperate measures?). While this may, in theory, open the bosses’ eyes on how vulnerable their systems are, I highly doubt there are many would-be “white hat hackers” who would risk their jobs in this fashion, given the state of the economy. Although, with prior notice and other arrangements, it may actually work. In the end, an IT department’s best friend is an enlightened management.
As we’ve seen many times in the past, trouble arises when people in power think they’re above the law – or, in this case, their own company policies. One comment said it best: “I doubt seriously that there will ever be a technological solution to a sociological problem. The problem is with people, not their tools.”