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IBM Adds Heft To Enterprise 2.0

I confess that I still think of IBM as stodgy, so my head has been turned around by the leadership I'm seeing out of Big Blue on Enterprise 2.0. Two new Pearson/IBM Press books written by IBMers provide a sound intro for managers looking to get pointed in the right direction so they can help their organizations get beyond the hype and extract some real value from E2.0 technologies.

Alexander Wolfe

May 26, 2010

3 Min Read

I confess that I still think of IBM as stodgy, so my head has been turned around by the leadership I'm seeing out of Big Blue on Enterprise 2.0. Two new Pearson/IBM Press books written by IBMers provide a sound intro for managers looking to get pointed in the right direction so they can help their organizations get beyond the hype and extract some real value from E2.0 technologies.I'd recommend taking a look at the two tomes in tandem, because each of them plugs the coverage hole of the other one. "Web 2.0 and Social Networking for the Enterprise," by Joey Bernal, an executive IT specialist with IBM Software Services for Lotus, catalogues the tech side of the equation.

"The Social Factor," by Maria Azua, vice president of cloud computing enablement for IBM Enterprise Initiatives, gets into how to deploy and use this stuff within a real, live organization.

Like I said, the two books have a Yin/Yang thing going on. Which is fine, because it brought home to me the point that E2.0 tech without well-thought-out usage scenarios is wasted software. By the same token, evangelizing about the wonders of enterprise soc-networking sans stuff with which to implement it is just a lot of trend-following blather.

What also jumped out at me is how difficult it is to make truly effective use of Enterprise 2.0 technology. Or, more precisely, how much of a shot in the dark this stuff can be in its still-early stages. As in, there can be a big payoff, but you don't know if your organization will in fact be the group that gets that bump. Maybe your culture simply isn't open enough to enable great ideas to catch fire rather than just evanesce into the intranet wikisphere. (OTOH, implementing E2.0 can be a good first step in acculturating your employees to take ownership of their innovative suggestions.)

One potential E2.0 stumbling block the books spotlighted for me is the fact that this stuff can be much more of a time-suck than commonly realized. Azua writes about IBM's crowd-sourcing exercises, in which they solicit bottom-up ideas via a tightly orchestrated process called "Jams."

However, this isn't off-the-cuff communications. There's six to 16 weeks of preparation, three days for the event itself, and then up to three weeks of post-Jam analysis. That latter phase applies automated text-mining and analysis to extract common themes, and surface the previously unarticulated ideas floating around in the mass corporate consciousness.

My own take is that the generic wisdom of crowds might not be the biggest Enterprise 2.0 win. Rather, it could be business process refinement. The analogy here is to automakers like Toyota who empower their line workers to suggest better ways to accomplish production tasks. I'd venture that there's an untapped well of ideas within most organizations from folks who can envision more effective ways of doing their jobs.

Anyway, that's my Enterprise 2.0 take for today. Check out the two books, and leave a comment below or e-mail me directly at [email protected].

See also my recent post, Top 3 Pluses & Minuses Of Enterprise 2.0.

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

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Alexander Wolfe

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Alexander Wolfe is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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