Rise of the networked Enterprise – Web 2.0 finds its payday

McKinsey & Company published their yearly study of Web 2.0 adoption in the enterprise as they’ve done over the last few years. In addition to the interesting data and continual growth of use, they tried to use some statistical analysis to correlate the level of use and adoption to company business performance.

The results, while far from being statistically conclusive, do show that companies that have extensively adopted Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies (they prefer using the term “Networked Enterprise” to the traditional Enterprise 2.0) perform better than their less networked peers.

It’s a great validation to what many of us practitioners in the field see as obvious. More information sharing, transparency and collaboration increases knowledge dissemination and empower better informed decisions. Taking these approaches out to customers and partners can only have positive effect.

Few things I found noteworthy in the results:

  • The ownership of internal collaboration at 61% of responding companies was in IT, not the business or corporate communications. This leads in many cases to a tool based discussion and decisions rather than how can these tools best serve business needs employee needs. Overall lack of ownership is still one of the biggest problems we are seeing. One of the most important steps a company can make in promoting the importance of collaboration is assigning clear ownership.
  • The biggest benefits come when companies use collaboration technologies both internally and externally. Business processes are complex and span multiple stakeholders. Companies that are able to automate and refine these processes and interactions see returns and this is very encouraging.
  • Success and adoption comes from putting Web 2.0 technologies “in the line of business”. If use of collaboration tools is not an additional tool or task but where the work is done, it will be used. If documents are only stored in SharePoint folders rather than in file shares, reports uploaded vs. emailed etc. everyone will get used to it quickly.
  • Social Networking being the highest used web 2.0 feature at 40% adoption. The term Social Networking itself is problematic as it can be used to describe many different types of interactions, from facebook to the SharePoint “colleagues” but there is no doubt that the immense popularity of these tools outside of the enterprise is having an impact, at least on what people think the priorities should be.

What’s ahead?

So how will social technologies evolve in 2011? It seems like the trend of adopting successful consumer tools and bringing them to the fold will continue. The gap is still huge and for most companies, even getting to a reasonable level of sharing still is in the future but some likely candidates include:

  • Full adoption and usage of smartphones as working and collaboration tools, not just email.
  • Location a la 4square
  • Collaborative editing with office 2010

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