Enterprise 2.0 relies on the outside to gain maturity

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Last week I attended the ‘International Forum on Enterprise 2.0 in Milan. Many things to say because of the quality of the agenda but I’ll focus on what seemed to be the most substancial trend of the event.

I already wrote how  mch I find social CRM relevant because it’s a concrete embodiment of enterprise 2.0 that takes the whole value chain into account and, so ,is easier to get for any business. I’ve been talking for months with Mark Tamis in order to know when social CRM and enterprise 2.0 will meet and we thought it could happen in the end of this year. Obviously it will come sooner than expected.

The most significant evidence whas the opening keynote by the always excellent  Sameer Patel. His explaination of the factors that force organizations to change internally is that customers now have tools that support behaviors that force companies to operate in a new way. I’m using “operate” because it’s about a systemic relationship between businesses and their ecosystem that must not be mistaken with the way people work which is a related issue but should not be analyzed in the same way (I’ll come back to this topic in a next post because the “changing the way people work” vs. “changing the way companies are doing business” discussion was hot and meaninging in the previous day’s workshop).

Let’s be clear : it’s not a about a sales or marketing driven organization but organizations building new kind of synergies and partnerships with their ecosystems. It implies they rethink the way they act and interact within their ecosystem, what will cause, in the end, the need for empowering employees so they can be efficient in this new context. That’s quite close to my “SOO approach” in which, anyone having to support and facilitate the work of those who are “under” them in the hierarchical line, employees acitivities is driven by external demand in a competence-based problem solving network.

Whats does it change in practical terms :

– it’s easier to convine internally when you adopt a value-creation-based approach (because no one creates value by being internally efficient only but by maximizing interactions with the outside, with those who pay at the end). Such an approach is more reassuring for decision makers and managers who need some kind of rationality.

– organizations will be able to consider and tackle the whole information flow lifecycle instead of suffering of flow-breaks at each point of contact between the company and its ecosystem that are places where opposites approaches used to confront.

– that’s quite an interesting challenge for vendors and IT depts : they will have to both design and accept platforms that gather intenal and external people and/or allow many information flows to enter the internal information system. At this time that’s not that obvious for vendors and not all IT people have the right mindset to accpet it.

What does not change ?

– For the same reasons why Enterprise 2.0 used to suffer from being hijacked by IT depts, this new model should be hijacked by slaes and marketing people. Not only they may hurt the outside but they are not more legitimate internally than IT. So there’s an obvious risk of failure on both sides of the firewall.

– that’s still about process optimization (as enterprise 2.0 used to be even if some used to refuse to admit it).

So, in the newt months, I expect that the two issues will be more and more tackled jointly. But we’ll have to be cautious about one thing : we’re talking about systems, logics, processus. The visible part of the iceberg such as how to engage stakeholders and facilitate change may remain very specific. On the other hand this will bring more consistence : people are more likely to change when they see and understand how everything is related to a big picture instead of looking like isolated initiatives.

In some way, it’s a matter of infrastructure. Both on the technological side (but that’s not the priority at this time) and on the business systematism. Let’s bet this increased coherence will make it easier to work on the management and usage layers.

Today the Enterprise 2.0 conference is starting in Boston. I’ll be there to get some evidences about some trends I expect to become mainstream in the next months. With, maybe, some kind of salutary “landing” on some issued. To be continued this week….