Share More: a framework for enhancing collaboration

In a great study, McKinsey and Company published last year they showed how companies that use social and collaborative technologies extensively (networked companies in their terminology) outperformed traditional companies. They called it “Web 2.0 finds its payday”.

So if you work for a networked company – congratulations. Now if your company is part of the vast majority of companies struggling through some forms of collaboration but not seeing enough benefits, how do you get to the payoff stage?

In this following series of posts, I’ll try to offer a methodology and examples for how to do just that. Elevate the level of collaboration and create a fully networked organization one step at a time.

We call this process Share More.

The premise is simple, for each business area or function, find a real world business challenge where collaboration can make a difference. Implement it. Move to the next one.

Creating the overall framework is like creating an association wheel for the term “Share” in the middle:

Sharing can be with just a few team members or with the whole company. It can be internal or external. If you stop and think about all the interactions you have in a week, which causes you the most pain and time? Can these interactions be made simpler using technology? Can you Share More?

The first Share More solution I’d like to address is process and workflow solutions.

Share Process

Process and form automation is all about tracking and control. The real dramatic change is in giving managers and administrators visibility into every step and log of every change and update. It can also speed the process up and save effort in typing information into other systems, initiating emails or filing paper into physical files.

We’ve worked with a large hospitality organization to automate all HR and Payroll related forms through the use of InfoPath and SharePoint and learned a lot of valuable lessons that can be valid to many a process automation:

  • Strongly enforce data integrity: Most forms are created to collect data that will be fed eventually into another system. Therefore data input must come from the same source system it will end up in. Values and choices have to be restricted to valid combinations and open text fields limited to a minimum. The cleaner the data is, the less trouble it will cause down the road.
  • Know how organizational and reporting hierarchy is maintained: While you may know what system holds the organizational reporting structure, knowing that it’s 100% accurate and maintained up to date is a lot harder. Since some forms require sending confidential information like salary for approval, the wrong reporting relationship can compromise important information. Consider masking personal or confidential information if it is not essential for the approval requested (while the data, encrypted, can still be part of the form)
  • Don’t over customize: like our beloved tax code, approval workflows can get extremely complicated and convoluted as organizational politics that evolved over the years created special cases and more exceptions than rules. Codifying these special cases is expensive and prone to change. Consider it an opportunity to streamline and simplify the rules.
  • Augment with stronger 3rd party tools: while the core systems – like SharePoint contain built in (and free) workflow mechanism, it is limited in the control, flexibility, scalability and management as it comes out of the box. Some 3rd party tools like Nintex and K2 BlackPoint provide added flexibility and scalability. For a price.
  • Version deployment: Forms and process will change. How will updates be deployed without interfering with running flows and processes?

In future posts I’ll explore other opportunities for Sharing More including Sharing Insight, Sharing Responsibly and we’ll look into specific opportunities for collaboration and sharing in insurance and healthcare.

Five keys to thriving during hypergrowth

When your successful strategy pays off and you find your business in a period of hypergrowth, keeping everything moving forward in alignment (instead of spinning out of control) is your biggest challenge. Here are five keys to sustaining your success:

1. Work smarter, not harder – review your business processes and look for ways to eliminate tasks that don’t add significant value, or automate manual handoffs.

2. Great tools are always a good investment – you can’t sustain hypergrowth with yellow pads and Excel spreadsheets. Put more power into the hands of key users, so they don’t have to rely on IT for queries and reports.

3. Keep an eye on profits while focusing on growth. Sustain your sales momentum, but eliminate waste and manage your profit margins.  Make sure you are getting maximum value out of your marketing efforts, as well as keeping an eye on your cost of goods sold.

4. Bureaucracy strangles growth – your backoffice organization should avoid imposing cumbersome processes on the parts of your business that sell, produce and deliver your products and services. Use effective collaboration tools to cut the middlemen out of your business processes.

5. Choose meaningful KPI’s. Less is more–they aren’t KEY performance indicators if you have a list of 20 KPI’s  for one area of the business. Hypergrowth KPI’s differ from downturn KPI’s.  

If you are in a rapid growth phase, what are you tracking now? If you are hoping to achieve hypergrowth what are your KPI’s? Leave us a comment.

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

Making sense of SharePoint’s Workflow and BPM capabilities

Workflow and BPM often get lumped together but it is important to understand the difference between them if you are to pick the right tool for your enterprise. While it is generally agreed that workflow is for modeling simple sequential processes and BPM solutions are more capable of handling complex tasks the distinction between the two needs to be further sharpened. According to David McCoy of Gartner BPM can be defined as “… a structured approach employing methods, policies, metrics, management practices and software tools to manage and continuously optimize an organization’s activities and processes.” Workflow on the other hand is concerned with tasks and application-specific sequencing of activities through a series of predefined steps, involving a small group of people and/or closely related applications. The distinction between the two is far from crisp and in fact it can be argued that both are part of the same continuum. However, there is a distinct difference in focus and complexity between the two. Here is a chart that attempts to further define the two based on capabilities and task suitability.

According to a recent survey by Forrester, Microsoft and SharePoint came in as #1 among the IT decision makers for use as BPM platform followed by Oracle, SAP, IBM, and a host of other BPM centric companies. Forrester report further notes that despite Microsoft’s best efforts to not position SharePoint as a BPM solution (rather as a collaborative workflow solution); the message does not seem to come across clearly. This confusion seems to thrive due to lack of clear and well-defined goals for business process automation and understanding of capabilities of SharePoint and BPM suites (BPMS).  The Forrester report outlines that SharePoint’s features for supporting true BPM are limited. Most of SharePoint’s capabilities in this arena are founded on Windows workflow foundation (WF). While a custom solution can be developed based on SharePoint and WF API to support BPM like capabilities, such an endeavor is bound to be expensive and brittle. SharePoint shines best when OTB capabilities are leveraged to the maximum and customizations are managed carefully. SharePoint’s workflow, document management and collaboration features can be used to develop robust workflow applications that can simplify and automate document & form centric business processes. SharePoint can also serve as a hub of cross-department and cross-application integration but only at the user interface level. SharePoint does not pretend to act as middleware or an enterprise service bus (ESB) and therefore does not provide any standards based application integration features – tasks best left to dedicated integration platforms or BPM solutions.

The limitations of SharePoint’s built-in workflow and underlying Windows Workflow surface quickly when tested against complexities of true enterprise business process automation scenarios. SharePoint’s workflow processes are constrained by the Site Collection boundaries. Therefore any workflow that needs to span organizational boundaries and as results site collections becomes difficult to manage and brittle. For example if a budget approval process needs to go through the finance department, corporate office and local approvals and if any of these structures use their own Site Collections the workflow process will require custom coding or manual workarounds. This constraint limits SharePoint’s workflow scope to department or local application level. WF processes are also limited to either sequence or state machine patterns. There is also no support for a user who makes a mistake and needs to go back to the previous step during a workflow. Multi-level approvals are also not supported a document needs to be routed back to one of the earlier approvers rather than the author. SharePoint workflows are executable programs and therefore cannot adopt easily at runtime (after instantiation) to changes in the rules that may result from changes in business process environment (e.g. regulation changes, corporate policy change, etc.)

While SharePoint is not ideal for complex business process automation it can certainly be used to get started. If all you organization needs is automation of simple and commonly used business tasks (approvals, document management, simple HR applications, financial approvals, etc.)  that do not require tight integration with other data systems and do not require complex exception processing, modeling, optimization, monitoring, etc., then it is a good candidate for SharePoint workflow. However, if your organization is truly looking into business process automation and business process improvement (BPI) then there are many 3rd party solutions (AgilePoint, Global360, K2, Nintex etc.) that can be layered on top of SharePoint to create a more robust solution. The advantage of a layered solution is that 3rd party vendors are able to leverage Microsoft’s significant investment in ease of use, collaboration and user interface integration capabilities of SharePoint while adding core BPM functionality. Such solutions are also typically less expensive and deploy more quickly than a traditional full-blown BPM solution (depending on the situation).

There two basic flavors of the layered BPM solutions (products that leverage SharePoint’s platform & interface for most interactions). The first flavor of these solutions relies on the underlying WF as their workflow engine. Using WF as the base they have built capabilities that are more advanced than out of the box capabilities of SharePoint. Furthermore they are able to maintain a light footprint by leveraging SharePoint and WF infrastructure. However, they naturally suffer from some of the same shortcomings as WF. The second group of solutions relies on proprietary workflow engines that are not built on top of WF. Such solutions typically have larger footprints since they create their own parallel infrastructure for workflow processing and data storage. Their independent foundation allows them to provide capabilities that are not limited by WF but typically at the cost of additional infrastructure complexity. There is a place for either kind of solution and picking the right tool (SharePoint workflow vs. SP layered BPM vs. dedicated BPM) is a vital cog in any business process automation or improvement endeavor.

However, the story does not end at picking the right tool; in fact it is just getting started. Edgewater recently conducted a case study on the effectiveness of such efforts and found that there is a significant disconnect between popular BPM messaging and the companies deploying such technologies. While ROI is considered to be the holy grail of most IT projects the respondents in the survey noted that “ROI was not the most important factor … “, other areas such as customer satisfaction were more important. Survey also found that while BPM tools are more than capable of modeling complex processes organizations implementing BPM preferred to “start with well-defined process that involved fewer people to get a quick win and buy-in first”. Perhaps the most important finding was that the success or failure or an implementation depends on “solid understanding of the business AND the necessary technical skills to implement BPM; just one won’t work.” Business Process Improvement (BPI) needs to be a continuous learning and optimizing cycle. Picking the right tool is only half the battle, having a clear vision of goals and objectives and how BPM may or may not help achieve those is just as essential.

 

SharePoint 2010 Migration: Options & Planning

Many organizations that are running SharePoint 2003/2007 or other CMS are either actively considering or in the midst of upgrading to SharePoint 2010. In this blog we will look at what is involved in upgrading to SharePoint 2010, various options available for the upgrade, and initial planning that needs to precede the migration.

 There are two basic methods of upgrading/migrating from an older version of SharePoint to SharePoint 2010 that are provided by Microsoft: in-place upgrade and database attach upgrade. In addition, there are numerous third-party tools that can help you migrate content and upgrade to SharePoint 2010 not only from an older version of SharePoint but also from other CMS’. Each method has its own set of benefits depending on the objectives of the migration and specifics of the environment. When selecting a migration path, some of the aspects you may need to consider include:

  • Ability to take the production system offline during the migration
  • Amount of change involved in content and its organization during migration
  • Number of customizations (web parts, themes, meta-data, workflows, etc.)
  • Amount of content being migrated
  • Need to upgrade hardware
  • Need to preserve server farm settings

It is much easier to migrate a clean and lean environment than an environment that is full of obsolete content, unused features and broken customization. Start with cleaning up your existing sites and check for the orphaned sites, lists, web parts, etc. Remove any content that is no longer in use, remove unused features and ensure used features are present and working. Once your existing SharePoint site is in tiptop shape you are ready to plan your migration steps.

Before you put your migration/upgrade in motion you need to understand what migration aspects you can compromise on and hard constraints you have. For example:

  • Can you afford to put your environment in read-only mode for the duration of the upgrade?
  • Does the amount of content you have make it prohibitive to copy it over the network?
  • Do you have a lot of customization that you have to deal with?
  • Are you planning to reorganize or selectively migrate your content?

The answers to these kinds of questions will direct your choice of migration tools. Here is a check list that will help you get organized.


Customizations can have a big impact on how quickly and smoothly your migration goes. Therefore it is important to identify and account for as many of them as possible. PreUpgradeCheck can help but here is a list to help you identify and uncover customizations that can add complexity to your migration efforts.

Fresh! Content is King

fresh-content-squaresUp until few years ago most companies were satisfied with creating websites that were largely static.  A website designer would organize largely pre-existing content into a collection of content buckets, slick graphics, and flash presentations and a website developer would bring the website into existence. New content would be added when either the old one became obsolete or new products or services were created. This model is essentially one step above the electronic brochure style websites of yesteryear, when companies essentially copied their existing paper brochures to web and called it a website.

In today’s environment of social networking, blogs, and collaboration, static content is not only passé it prevents companies from driving advantage from their internal and external user bases and communities of experts. Fresh and timely content helps drive new traffic to the website and is an effective marketing tool. Unfortunately, most companies do not realize the need for fresh and rapidly evolving content on their website and the role it can play in engaging their customers and prospects. Even companies whose products and services remain largely stable overtime need to think about their websites differently. It is not just a one way medium to push static content outwards, it is in fact one of the most cost-effective mechanisms to engage customers and prospects and turn them into a long-term asset. If you believe that the nature of your business is such that you don’t need to think about using your website to engage your customers and prospects, chances are you haven’t fully explored the possibilities. It may take some effort to figure out creative and effective mechanisms to drive advantage from your ability to create fresh and meaningful content and interactions with your customers and prospects, but the rewards are well worth it. From local doctor’s offices to insurance companies to Fortune 500 companies, all can benefit from large, loyal, and engaged communities of customers and prospects.

However, most likely your existing static content-based website can’t support the type of content and interactions needed to support what we just discussed. If your website infrastructure still relies on IT staff to update the content chances are you won’t be able to morph your website into a hub of fresh and dynamic content that attracts new and repeat visits. The business users or the content creators must be able to update the content easily and as frequently as needed.

Of course, you would want some sort of approval workflow and a content publishing process to manage rapidly changing content. Fortunately there is a category of software that is designed to do just that. Web content management systems (WCMs) such as Drupal, Joomla, Microsoft SharePoint, DotNetNuke, etc., are designed to give business users and content creators control over the ability to update content easily and frequently. In most cases, users can manipulate the content by logging into the administrative version of the website and updating the content in a WYSIWYG environment. Content creation and updates can be brought under customized workflows and approval chains which are quite important in a fast moving environment. WCM systems also boost many other capabilities like:

  • Content Categorization
  • Document Management
  • Delegation
  • Audit Trails
  • Content Creator Grouping
  • Content Templates
  • Discussion Forums
  • Blogs
  • Reviews and Ratings
  • Etc.

Discussion forums and blogs can be used to create vibrant user and expert communities that revolve around your products and services and continuously create new content that keeps customers and prospects coming back to your site. These tools not only provide a mechanism for external parties to contribute new content but also provide a mechanism for them to communicate directly with you about what is important to them. Insights gleaned from such content can be quite valuable in creating new products and services or improving the existing ones.

Now that we’ve talked about the virtues of fresh content and using your website as a two way medium, you are probably wondering if you would be able to afford it. A little known secret about good WCMs is how cost effective they can be. Creating a custom website from scratch can be a very onerous and expansive proposition. However, most well respected WCMs offer out-of-box templates and web components that actually make is much faster and cheaper to build a website if you take advantage of their off-the-shelf goodies. If you are considering investing in an upgrade of your website — even if you are NOT (consider the cost of lost opportunity) investing any money in your website —  it would behoove you to look at the benefits of upgrading your website using a WCM system.

Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2009 – What’s New?

It was interesting to visit the Web 2.0 conference last week and see the progress and trends compared to my last year impressions.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • SharePoint is the de-facto standard for Enterprise 2.0 While other vendors have compelling products and features, a CIO that is looking for an internal, comprehensive, secure and maintainable solution has almost only one choice (unless you are on an IBM stack..). Other tools focus on providing point solutions, hosted environments, plugging current SharePoint holes and extending functionality. Microsoft had the biggest and most impressive presence and were heavily promoting the next version SharePoint 2010 that will be launched in the SharePoint conference in October. (Some preliminary details here).
  • The field has definitely matured over the last year. There are more case studies and research about usage, benefits and trends although most companies are not sharing explicit ROI numbers. Some vendors have disappeared while others are growing and establishing themselves at a level where they may be considered long term players and safe for the enterprise.
  • The experts are still frustrated with the slow rate of adoption and the seeming growing gap between the prevalence of social tools and technologies used by marketing and sales to communicate externally Vs. they almost complete absence internally. The rapid adoption of tools like Facebook and Twitter for customer communication not just in retail but in Healthcare and other industries creates glaring discrepancies where the same companies have no tools internally and sometimes even block their own marketing teams from external use of these tools under some outdated IT policy.
  • IT is still not part of the discussion. That is unfortunate because as Steve Wylie, the conference director expressed in a guest post at ZDNET last week, large scale adoptions will not happen without IT.

    “While we could argue that this is a very new market and that businesses take time to change, I also believe that Enterprise 2.0 will be challenged by large-scale adoption until corporate IT is fully on board.  Early adoption has been largely driven by business users and department-level managers.  They had a problem to solve and were fed up waiting for IT to provide the solutions they needed.  They took matters into their own hands by finding workable, web-based solutions and even celebrated this new found freedom from IT.  With a few exceptions, IT took a reactive posture to Enterprise 2.0 and viewed it as a threat to be managed, secured and even blocked in some cases.”

  • Tactical view. One of the most frequently asked questions was “what is the best way to get started?”. The pretty universal answer for vendors and corporate users was to approach it in a tactical manner and find a specific business problem you can solve using collaboration tools. Be it an HR portal to boost morale, tools to help virtual project teams work more efficiently, sales best practices portal or any of many other ideas. Define a narrow business case and implement. So far, trying to approach this in a strategic manner makes finding ROI a herculean task and as noted above, puts IT on the defensive. I hope that this trend will start to change as these tactical solutions rarely provide long term sustainable benefits.
  • Rise of the Community Manager. The most active forum was the one where the newly created function – community managers shared their challenges and tricks for getting people to take part in the social activity. First, It is great to see that many leading organizations have realized the importance of such a task although many had it as a secondary responsibility they volunteered to do rather than a full time position. Creating and maintaining a vibrant and active internal community requires skill, passion and process and the focus should rightfully be as much on that as on the tools that enable the community.

Additional impressions:

Enterprise 2.0 2009 Conference: Aggregate and Organize

Collaboration Style Revisited

When looking at the results of our last poll on collaboration styles, several things jumped out at us.

1. Nearly a third of the respondents are either still relying on email collaboration or under-utilizing basic portal functionality (document checkout/checkin for version control).

2. Among users of collaboration portals, there was an even split between Sharepoint and other tools.

This led us to wonder how broad corporate adoption of collaboration tools might be. And it leads us, of course, to another poll.

Comments always welcome, and in case you missed the first post in this series, it’s still open and you can vote here.

Building a Collaborative Enterprise: Twitter (Part 2)

This is the second post in a series of posts covering collaborative tools that can make an impact on your business. If you’re new to Twitter, I’d suggest you read part 1 first.

Why Twitter?: Internal Collaboration

Honestly, many of the very creative ways Twitter can be used as a real-time communication platform probably haven’t been invented yet. Here are some creative ideas we came up with using an internal poll on our Sharepoint site:

  • Server or systems uptime monitoring and alerts (tying into Twitters excellent SMS capability with major cell phone carriers)
  • Corporate workflow integration and notifications – new business notification / blasts, integration with development workflow, etc.
  • Events planning and communication – for companies that sponsor annual users’ group meetings, setting up a dedicated Twitter account to communicate details and updates to attendees

Enterprise Use

Especially for large companies, something like Twitter can even take the place of other solutions (such as Office Communications Server), or (as in many companies I’ve seen) public IM services such as Yahoo or AOL. IM services that function outside the company may present serious security risks, including exposure to vicious worms or malware.

Companies such as Yammer and Present.ly are springing up, providing Twitter-like services running for private intra-company enterprise use. These provide the benefits of Twitter, including collaboration and greater dissemination of information, while retaining privacy that enterprises mandate.

While the market for corporate Twitter-like products is still in flux, examining the options available should be an important part of your enterprise collaboration strategy. With recent management changes at Twitter, it is highly likely that Twitter will be introducing a for-pay Enterprise service in the near future. Twitter CEO Evan Williams recently stated that

There is commercial value, not just personal value [to Twitter]

Integration

Twitter provides a very rich series of web services that can be used to integrate Twitter accounts with many existing back-office systems – both for receiving incoming tweets (imagine your Twitter feed integrated with salesforce.com, for example), and for outgoing tweets (imagine integrating QuickBase or Microsoft Dynamics to drive marketing campaigns). The Twitter web services can easily be integrated into existing Java, .NET, or Ruby on Rails infrastructure.

Downsides

Because Twitter is a realtime mass communication mechanism, gaffes can hurt you very quickly, since bad or inappropriate twitstream content will assuredly ripple through the as Internet fast as possible. Additionally, Twitter serves as a very rapid sounding board for poorly vetted social media ideas by aggregating feedback from thousands of users or consumers.

A very recent example of this from November 15-16, 2008 was the very strong consumer backlash to Motrin’s new advertising campaign. Immediately after the advertising campaign was released, negative comments on Twitter began piling up, causing Motrin to decide to pull the ad from its online media campaign.

On many corporate blogs, and certainly traditional “press release” communications outlets, content is reviewed, re-reviewed, and approved many times over before being released for public consumption. Part of a corporate Twitter strategy should include a good understanding (and documentation) of rules of engagement and proper Twitter etiquette, since a traditional review process would be cumbersome and reduce the “immediateness” of responses.

Name Squatting

With the uptick in corporate attention being paid to Twitter, “Twitter squatting” is starting to be noticed by corporations. Much as “domain squatting” happened in the early days of the Internet, Twitter squatting could be potentially either damaging or expensive for companies that don’t own their name. Twitter doesn’t yet have an official policy of releasing names to trademark holders (unlike, for example, domain squatting); however, they will release “inactive” accounts, and I’d bet they will have a policy on this issue very soon.

Should You Twitter?

In the current highly-connected and collaborative business climate, companies must have a social media strategy. Companies must understand all of the major social media platforms and identify how they will bring value to the business.

Twitter has provided a unique service, and many companies, especially ones that deal with B2C services, should consider a strong Twitter presence.

Next in our series of blog entries covering collaborative enterprises: Facebook.

Web 2.0: Like Prego Spaghetti Sauce “It’s In There!”

It's in there!

It's in there!

Web 2.0 is giving me flashbacks to an old TV commercial for Prego spaghetti sauce; “Tomatoes, in there! Garlic, in there! Carrots, in there! Half of Italy, in there!…”  It seemed no matter what you asked for it was in that bottle of sauce.  Being a sauce, how could you really tell what was in there, or if it was really needed?  Plus, the tomatoes colored everything red so who knows?  Now we have another bottle of technical sauce here called Web 2.0; it’s in there!  It’s colored all Internet so how can you tell what is really in there, or if it is really needed?

Good question, seems like every vendor says they’re on the bottle of ingredients, in fact the most important one.  It would be funny if it was not so pathetic.  Unfortunately, the smell here is not a nice bubbling spaghetti sauce, closer to a warm crock of….., you get the concept.  Every vendor out there seems to believe companies will blindly buy anything labeled Web 2.0. Rather, the CIO’s are more apt to remember the Internet bubble and where that approach got them the last time.

What is required is more definition of what Web 2.0 is, and why we in IT need to move in that direction.  To get that basic understanding, we need to breakout that old spaghetti sauce pan again to boil out all the fancy analysis and obsequious technology.  Lo and behold! What remains is a simple concept: the inmates are now in control of the asylum.  Users of the Internet have turned the tables on the big players in the space, they are no longer happy being spoon fed from a portal. The denizens want to hunt it on their own terms, see it their own way, save it and dispose of it as they please.  If you stand in their way, this mob of Internet hunter-gatherers will crush you with the loss of their eyeballs (poor Yahoo, poor EBay, happy Facebook, happy iPhone).

If this basic principle is followed like a lode stone, much that is occurring in the Internet space is much more illuminating and the proper path forward (with supporting technology) is a great deal clearer to discern.  For example, the winning companies embrace openness and external developers.  There is no way their internal staff can create and the site push enough content and functionality to stay on top.  The Tao of a top site is to be one with the masses, following and attempting to push is uncool.  Allowing users to mash-up specialty widgets into cool personal discoveries is winning, monetization will ultimately follow.

By this point, you are thinking — how is all this ethereal philosophic spew helping me?  I need to get something together that can be called Web 2.0 or my IT existence is at risk!  Do not worry Grasshopper (I’m showing my ’70s again, rats!) I’ll put forward a corporate-friendly straw man.  If SharePoint is used to enable a project, process, or department; it is so Web 1.0 (boring!).  If we put the entire corporation up on SharePoint, acting like a corporate Facebook, we are getting there.  If we template it such that we now have ubiquitous collaboration; optimizing and moving our corporate intellectual property (IP) at light speed much nicer.  But for ultimate coolness, we need to commit heresy and wire a Google search appliance in, after adding all of our corporate content to the pile: documents, presentations, everything.  Then the cherry on top, flatten key data bases to HTML and toss them in.  Now, with proper organizational change management (Yes Billy! You can run with scissors, points down please), employees can use all of the power contained in Web 2.0 to maximize unstructured corporate data for speed and profit.  Mangiare! Mangiare!