My takes on the Enterprise 2.0 Forum : Enterprise 2.0 and the end of social washing

I’d like to take a few minutes to share with you my takes about the last  Enterprise 2.0 Forum that took place in Paris on march 17th et 18 th. First, a few words about the context.

I was looking for a professional event about enterprise 2.0 in Paris. Why do I mean by “professional” ? I’m fed up with the usual 40 min “show flat” presentations which conclusion is “it’s really awesome but I can’t do this in my company” and where we have the vague impression that insteat of getting answers to our problems we’re being sold a little piece of dream that comes with a big piece of software. In brief, attendees leave with shining stars in they eyes but realize, when the time to wake up comes, that it does not help them to achieve anything. I don’t even mention the events where we gather among experts, gurus, convinced practictionners to share certainties and common places before we realize that those we’re supposed to help weren’t in the room.

I came to the last Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Frankfurt with this idea in mind and, there, two things surprised me in a positive way. First, the format, that favors exchanges instead of one way talks (exchanges with the speaker but also among attendees) and, second, the fact that sponsors, even present around the event and the conference room were not allowed on stage to turn case studies into disguised sales speeches. So I we had the idea to bring this format to Paris, with a modest ambition regarding to the time we had : demonstrate it was possible in a local an french context and provide attendees not with discourses but with a strong added value. I think we did it and can already promise you there will be a second edition next year and than having 12 months instead of 2 to organize it will allow us to make things even better ans maybe bigger.

Last thing before delivering my takes. We usually judge this kind of event regarding to the quality of speeches (and of the buffet if you’re french). That’s not enough in the format we chose because it relies on an active participation from attendees (what implies to keep an “human size” to favor discussions). If I got many positives feedbacks, it’s also mainly because of the audience that asked the right questions and started vibrant discussions. When a conference room is crowed with people that have to het things done in their company, the debate easily reaches a higher level.

After the form, the substance. Here are my conclusions in a few points

• The time of evangelization is over. People don’t question the fact enterprise 2.0 is relevant or not, but want to know the “how to in my context”.

• It’s about business. The corporate Facebook is outdated. It’s about work practices that improve performance.

• It’s not a game anymore. Now projects are global and carried by the top management. That’s the end of social bubbles disconnected from reality. Companies think global and pilots are not made to test but are the learning stage before global rollout. I really appreciated Claire Flanagan’s approach that set a time limit (5 month) instead of limiting the number of users what allowed her to quickly get a critical mass (nearly 30 000 users) with an opt-in policy.

• Tools come second. We talked a lot about management, culture, governance. 90% speakers did not even mention the name of the platform they used and, in fact, the question is elsewhere (even than there’s always the same usual drudge in every conference). The best example comes from Danone where the “networking attitude” program was launched in 2003. It’s all about management and behaviors. Management 2.0 without web 2.0 tools. Tools came only when the behavioral dimension was natural in people every life in the workplace.

• HR seem to be out of the game. Except in a few cases, they are not at the heart of the project. Seeing the size of the projects, they can’t say they did not know so the question is : did they decide to give up their turn and stay behind, is it caused buy a lack of interest or a kind of disdain, or even by fear that makes them leave this burden to others ?

• IT depts. can’t block things anymore. Some are proactive and play their part as service providers, facilitators, if not things are done despite of them. At Lyonnaise Des Eaux, activists are into the IT team where they have their own pole (what’s not that common)) because they tackle both human, management and technical issues.

• Nothing can be done without internal relays. Once some leaders are identified, it’s still important to involve users that emerge from the mass and ask them to invent new use cases that fit their day to day work, their local needs.

• There’s no “one size fits all” adoption model. Each company has to define its own way depending on its culture and on local cultures.
• Support from top management. That’s been known for ages but it’s clear that a bottleneck appears when top managers are not active sponsors. I don’t mean being benevolent from a distance (“ok…let’s go guys…I’m watching you play..”) but being able to understand the change, make it theirs and imagine them, their staff and their behaviors in the future, be comfortable with it to be an active sponsor.

• Self-governance works. In many of the presented cases, users were able to create any kind of content and, most of all, groups or communities in self-service without any limitation or authorization. On both this angle and the moderation point of view, companies that let people do what they want did not encounter any issue.

• A new vocabulary is coming : less 2.0 and social, more performance, value, collaboration. We still talk about the same things but with more maturity.

As a conclusion, we’re seeing the end of “social washing”. Everybody knows understands that it’s not an alternative that has to be but everywhere to replace the existing but a part of a global approach. It’s not about opposing “old school not social things” to “social that’s the future of everything” but having a global reflection where both melt.

Enterprise 2.0 will be achieved the day when its 2.0 side won’t be visible anymore. “Social everywhere” where this new dimension adds to the existing and enriches it, where both melt, is much more relevant than “everything social” that would tend to throw everything through the window to put new things instead even where it does not makes any sense.

Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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