R. Todd Stephens on Enterprise 2.0

Sometimes it’s easy to be overwhelmed by new ways of working. Enterprise 2.0, for example, has crept up on us over the past few years. Those who’ve tracked it from the start have something of an advantage in that they pretty much know what all the elements and issues are. Anyone coming to it cold might find themselves misled by evangelists or confused by the propellor-heads.

It’s not easy to get on top of things and see all the elements in a sensible perspective. Three cheers then for R. Todd Stephens who is Senior Technical Architect of Collaboration and Online Services for the AT&T Corporation. He has been involved in corporate IT for 25 years with a high focus on enterprise information management since 1999. He has produced an Enterprise 2.0 Blueprint, a chart which can act as a checklist for all the elements of Web 2.0 for the enterprise.

Enterprise 2.0 Blueprint

Enterprise 2.0 Blueprint (click chart to get download)

The chart totally avoids product names, with the sole exception of ’Office’, but even that is a functional description rather than an explicit plug for Microsoft. The chart is in five columns: Business Drivers (for investing in Web 2.0 technology); Actors (the people involved); Technologies (and related technologies); Methods (how the technologies are used); and Value-Add (to the employee, the department and the business).

The chart is enterprise-centric, in the sense that the final column doesn’t mention value to customers. Or, for that matter, suppliers. Mentions of clients and customers are dotted around the chart, so it’s not as if they’re being ignored. But such an extension to the Value-Add column might help stimulate more consideration of who the business exists to serve.

Clues do exist in the minutiae of the chart. Sub-boxes contain items like Education, Training, Consulting, Self service and so on, but you sense that these are primarily seen as revenue or cost-saving opportunities. A box for ’Customers’ has ’Consumers’ and ’Producers’ as sub-boxes. Quite often customers have their own forums where they help each other out. It costs the enterprise very little but is a tremendous value-add for the customers. But then again, you could argue that this drops the support costs for the company.

Perhaps I need to wake up to the fact that value-add for customers will nearly always brings a reciprocal benefit for the company.

The good thing about this chart is that it is pretty comprehensive in terms of identifying all the Web 2.0 elements and shows how they fit into an organisation’s activities. While setting up an ’under the radar’ blog, wiki, IM or whatever is a trivial exercise, to derive real business value someone somewhere has to look at the bigger picture and figure out how to turn skunk works initiatives into corporate processes while retaining the spirit that made them attractive in the first place.

I think it was Napoleon or Nelson who used to toss a coin when faced with difficult decisions. If, when the coin landed, he was disappointed with the outcome, he’d go with his instincts. A chart like this is similar. Without it, you’ll be trying to make this stuff up. With it, you have a framework and if any of it jars, just alter it or extend it.

IMHO it makes a fine starting point.

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