E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Enterprise 2.0, Where Art Thou?

Gran Canaria - Risco Blanco in the Winter

While I was putting together yesterday’s blog post I kept thinking about something that’s been on my mind for a while and which I think is also going to help redefine, or reassure, depends on how you look into it, the next stage of my blogging mojo over here. Essentially, what will I continue to blog about? Over the course of the years, if you have been a long time reader, you may remember how there were a number of themes I kept coming back to from Knowledge Management, to Collaboration, (Social) Learning, Online Communities and, specially, Social / Open Business. Somehow I don’t think any of those would go away any time soon, but thinking it may well be as well a good time to up the game and introduce other topics like Org. Design, Change Management, Social Network Analysis, Wirearchy, and, specially, Employee Engagement, which I realise won’t be a new subject per se, since I have blogged about it for a good while already, but I still feel there is a lot more to share across and talk about. Pretty much like for Enterprise 2.0, since I still feel we are only now just getting started with it and its role in transforming organisations from the inside out. 

Almost 10 years ago, Andy McAfee coined the term Enterprise 2.0, as most of you folks out there would probably still remember. However, nearly 10 years later, no-one, or hardly anyone, seems to be talking, writing, tweeting, blogging, etc. anymore about that topic, as if it was left behind and gone with the wind. Remember Web 2.0 as well? 

Well, not exactly, perhaps. Let’s have a look into Andy’s original definition for Enterprise 2.0 to see what I mean: 

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.

A key word, to me, from that short, but rather thoughtful definition is no other than within. You would probably agree with me that there are tons of articles, publications, video clips and what not, about the so-called Enterprise 2.0 between companies and their partners or customers. Social Business has been in full swing for a good while as well and while the former focuses pretty much on a new kind of digital, more collaborative and social tools that have been made available for a good while (as far back as 1994, for example, for the first instances of either blogs or wikis), the latter probably just focuses on the overall transformation of how businesses operate as a whole. Pretty much like the so-called notion of Digital Transformation. But what keeps bugging me is how, despite the abundance of content around the external impact of both Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business, never mind Digital Transformation, there is very very little information available about what’s happening on the inside. Of organisations, that is.

If you notice, even when you get to attend conference events around these topics, we always pretty much bump into the very same case studies from companies, vendors and so forth that we keep talking about over and over again for a good few years. Yet, there is hardly any information about newcomers, about their own internal digital transformation through a combination of both Enterprise 2.0 (Tools) and Social Business (Processes AND People). There aren’t just enough new examples of digital transformation journeys, from the inside, available out there. And, I must confess, that nearly 10 years later, it bugs me. And big time. 

My good friend Euan Semple quoted, at one point, and I’m paraphrasing, I am sure, something along these lines: 

“You just can’t be 2.0 on the outside, if you are still operating 1.0 on the inside”

Well, I would probably even go one step further and add that in most cases most businesses out there are still, pretty much, operating as 0.5 organisations, yet, while pretending to be 2.0 on the outside when interacting with their customers and business partners, or even their competitors. I am really sorry, but it just doesn’t work like that. There needs to be first an internal (r)evolution before you can even start thinking about what’s going to happen on the outside. And for multiple reasons that I’m hoping to unpack over the course of time in this renewed vow to resume my blogging mojo.

Almost a year ago Andy himself was also questioning (Over at ‘Enterprise 2.0, Finally?’) whether we were starting to see glimpses of that so-called digital (r)evolution through Enterprise 2.0 and while there are tons of signs out there that confirm we have gotten started with that journey I sense we are not even there just yet. Just few glimpses. In fact, we are, only now, just getting things started, more than anything else because almost every single 2.0 practitioner out there who keeps advocating for Social Business and Digital Transformation (yes, there is a new buzzword in town and it’s been there for a good while now!) is realising that the magic needs to happen internally first, before you may venture out there on the open Social Web. Yet, there isn’t enough information, nor content, nor idea exchange, about those internal experiences. 

I think I know why that’s happening, and it would probably be a topic for another blog post coming up soon, although my good friend, Thomas van der Wal had a go at it, a while ago, and he pretty much nailed it with this absolutely stunning article titled ‘Getting Good Case Studies in Today’s Competitive World’.

Either way, I suspect that resuming my blogging mojo will give me an excellent opportunity to talk plenty more about that internal transformation that I have been working on with several of my clients after I went independent, now almost two years ago, as I have been accumulating tops of additional insights, experiences, know-how, methodologies, and what not, not only from when I used to work at IBM, but also as a freelance adviser. Both diversity and variety of clients over time have given me, probably, a unique opportunity in terms of what’s happening with multiple industries in their so-called digital transformation journeys. It’s now a good time to start sharing them across, don’t you think?  It’s now a good time as well to reconcile Enterprise 2.0 not just with the extenuating external focus we seem to have been enjoying last few years, but perhaps also focus on the inside, which, to me, is where the real magic happens as we get a wonderful opportunity to transform the business world as we know it right from inside the core: the employee experience. Because, you know, after all, ‘happy employees produce happy customers’.

Always, no exceptions.

Worth while sharing it along?
4 votes

8 comments

  1. Glad to see you back on your blog !

    Funny that we followed the same way. Employee experience is exactly the practice I’m building right now to drive digital transformation by a coherent and aligned approach to customer+employee experience.

    There’s still a long way but what I’ve learned over the last months is that the word employee experience seem to be meaningful to many people and even helps functions like HR or internal com to get what digital transformation means for them and what role they can play.

    Looking forward to read more from you on this matter.

    1. Bonjour, Bertrand, it’s really funny how the world works, isn’t it? I think we have both come to the very same conclusion from different perspectives, but perhaps from having been in the E2.0 scene for a good few years and seeing how the focus has shifted into the client experience, almost ignoring, totally, the overall employee experience, which, in my opinion, is just as important, if not, even more so! There can’t be a good customer experience without an employee one as well, so I’m really going to start diving plenty more in this whole area which was already envisioned by Andy McAfee nearly 10 years ago and we have made very little progress, if anything, at all.

      It’ll be a fascinating journey, indeed, and glad you will be on board as well! We need to bring forward the within aspect from E2.0 before it’s just too late, as that’s pretty much the very same thing that happened to good old KM back in the day as well!

      Let’s keep up the dialogue, my friend! And glad you are on board as well on to this subject with that new adventure! 🙂

    1. Hi Jane, many thanks for the feedback, for dropping by and for alerting me on the comment, since it got caught up in the spam queue along with a few others, which I have now approved accordingly. Yes, I think it’s an interesting topic worth while picking up again, specially, since there aren’t many new stories out there despite E2.0 having been there for nearly 10 years. We probably need to do a better job at it, because, right now, it’s not really working and the external focus, only, is not going to help provoke that Digital Transformation alone 😉

      Thanks again for the feedback! Much appreciated.

  2. Luis,

    Like you, my public blogging has been a bit, shall we say, sparse over the last couple of years. Partly because I just didn’t have the drive, I kind of reached a plateau of what I thought I had to say. But also because I took a job “on the inside”, bringing Enterprise 2.0 and Enterprise Social Networking to the workforce in a large (huge), hierarchical, very not-social organization. I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing – and learning – in that environment, seeing what works and what doesn’t, running headlong into brick walls and finding pockets of innovation and yearning for a better way to get work done.

    I’ve been getting the itch recently to start blogging again, to start writing and engaging in that social web that was so important to my learning in the past, and your “new beginning” just might be the final push I needed. Not sure if I’ll be able to provide any good case studies (internal, right), but I’ve definitely got some ideas to discuss.

    Cheers.

    1. Hi Brett,

      WOW! Splendid news! Thanks much for dropping by and for the feedback! I am delighted to read this blog post, and resuming my blogging mojo, may help you come back as well. It’s been far too long and while I think we may not be really that interested in case studies, I surely would love to learn about the stories and experiences of what you have gone through and that you think would be wroth while sharing across and discussing further along. We need plenty more of those inside / internal experiences to come afloat to demonstrate that the transformation has already happened and that is just not the same good old group of companies we keep talking about over and over again.

      Time to show how we are all collectively growing inside our own organisations so that we would have an opportunity to share those good practices, expertise, know-how, lessons learned and what not and help move the needle across the board. There has just been far too much focus on the outside, when the real fun happens on the inside. Always! Glad you will be resuming your blogging along those lines! I will be looking forward to reading those articles and participating in the upcoming dialogue. I’m pretty sure there will be plenty of it!

      Way cool! Thanks again, Brett, for dropping by and for the wonderful comments! Exciting times ahead! 😀

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