Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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11/3/2009
06:36 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Enterprise 2.0: The Barrier To Exit

In a moderated discussion at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Booz Allen Hamilton VP Art Fritzson and senior associate Walton Smith shared their experiences integrating social and collaborative software into their consulting business.

In a moderated discussion at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Booz Allen Hamilton VP Art Fritzson and senior associate Walton Smith shared their experiences integrating social and collaborative software into their consulting business.Among the most interesting insights to emerge from the discussion is that Enterprise 2.0, properly implemented, can create a barrier to exit.

In other words, it can help companies retain valuable knowledge workers by weaving social bonds into the fabric of the workplace.

"People think twice about leaving and giving up all that," said Fritzson.

It's been a longstanding concern among consulting firms, not to mention other companies, that connected, talented workers might leave and take their Rolodex of clients and contacts with them.

A social collaboration system, if actually used by workers, can discourage employees from leaving the company and severing their social network connections. And for employees who are determined to leave regardless, a social collaboration system can help minimize organizational knowledge loss when workers do move on.

To make its workplace social network valuable to employees, Booz Allen Hamilton had to make sure didn't create a firebreak between hobbies, interests, and work.

Fritzson said that was something company lawyers discouraged. They didn't want anything on the network that wasn't business-related. But Fritzson wanted the lawyers to advise on risks rather than dictate software architecture.

Adopting Enterprise 2.0 tools doesn't obviate the need for workplace policies. Fritzson said that someone wanted to create a hooka smoker's community, which wasn't allowed. And there may be moments of embarrassment, such when Smith clicked on a random employee profile during a demo and turned up a worker whose posted interests included fly swatting and skinny dipping.

But in general, the consensus among conference speakers is that the risks of adopting Enterprise 2.0 systems aren't as bad as they might seem and that the benefits can be enormous.

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