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5/24/2010
01:38 PM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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Top 3 Pluses & Minuses Of Enterprise 2.0

Getting ready for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, June 14- 17, I've been thinking about the value of the online collaboration tools most of us are beginning to embrace. My early take is that the positives are engagement, empowerment, and the potential to spur innovation. The downsides are the dangers of groupthink gone wild and the security risks of exposing valuable company data. Click through for my "top three" lists of E2.0 pluses and minus

Getting ready for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, June 14- 17, I've been thinking about the value of the online collaboration tools most of us are beginning to embrace. My early take is that the positives are engagement, empowerment, and the potential to spur innovation. The downsides are the dangers of groupthink gone wild and the security risks of exposing valuable company data. Click through for my "top three" lists of E2.0 pluses and minuses.Here are my Enteprise 2.0 minuses:

Security, security, security. In terms of potential exposure of proprietary data, Enterprise 2.0 is one huge thumb drive. By flattening your organization and making it easier for people to get at information which can help them do their jobs better, you're also giving bad actors an opportunity to walk that data out the door to competitors. This is one big scary gotcha, and something CIOs will be grappling with for the foreseeable future.

Collaboration as a time-waster. This negative is not something that's inherent in enterprise 2.0 tools so much as it collateral damage, which you get from any new tool poorly applied. I'm talking about stuff like: Let's all create a PowerPoint together, and then have a meeting to discuss it.

Enterprise 2.0 as false collaboration. This issue comes into play for organizations that talk the E2.0 talk without walking the walk. As in, true collaboration requires democratization on the playing field, even if final decision-making is reserved for the hierarchy. So effective E2.0 means bosses can't bludgeon their subordinates into setting forth only those ideas which validate existing top-down thinking. It also means that people shouldn't get a trophy just for participating, if they aren't contributing anything.

Now for the positives:

Breaking through the org chart. In my experience, the biggest win of E2.0 tools has been what amounts to the creation of a back channels. One is exposed to new people and information, and so new avenues emerge for getting things done. The danger here is whether a "Cheaper By The Dozen" effect will take hold and things will sink back to lower productivity once the newness wears off.

Better business responsiveness. Possibly this is just my earlier point restated, but for me the biggest win has been the ability for ad hoc teams to get together to jump on emerging business opportunities far more quickly than they would have been able to in the old days. Unified communications is the big facilitator here.

Empowerment and engagement. It's early in the game, but I'm betting one year soon we'll read a hagiographic business magazine -- if they still existing -- profile -- of the first Fortune 500 CEO to rise from mailroom to executive suite based her astute application of E2.0 tools. Certainly, the opportunity for visibility is unprecedented. Applied correctly, E2.0 should be a great HR tool for identifying and encouraging talent earlier than heretofore possible.

Follow me on Twitter: (@awolfe58)

What's your take? Let me know, by leaving a comment below or e-mailing me directly at alex@alexwolfe.net.

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Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of InformationWeek.com.

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