Motorola's IT Department Takes On Enterprise 2.0 - InformationWeek
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Motorola's IT Department Takes On Enterprise 2.0

The company's initiative, which it calls "Intranet 2.0," has been wildly successful, with 70,000 people using it every day, including partners.

At most companies, Enterprise 2.0 technologies are just starting to find their way in. Business units might have a wiki somewhere, the CEO might have an internal blog, and the IT department is wondering how to make new modes of collaboration pervasive. At Motorola, on the other hand, these collaborative technologies have already taken a huge foothold, and the VP in charge of the effort has advice for like-minded companies.

Motorola's initiative, which it calls "Intranet 2.0," has been wildly successful, with 70,000 people using it every day, including partners. The company now has 4,400 blogs and 4,200 wiki pages and uses, among other technologies, social bookmarking and tagging by Scuttle and social networking by Visible Path.

"It actually does work," said Toby Redshaw, Motorola's VP in charge of Enterprise 2.0 technologies. "It's beyond the wisdom of the hive, it actually lets people see new relationships, to see maps of what smart people and like people have done. For any specific problem or opportunity area, there's a community that you can go and find that has the collective knowledge of the company."

At Motorola, Intranet 2.0 started fairly quietly and grew organically by word of mouth and through the use of 250 "knowledge champions" strategically placed throughout the company to evangelize the new technologies. Redshaw made it a point to keep the technology simple to use so that the evangelism would turn into actual use. E-mail used to have a lock on the company, and Redshaw said he's now seeing less e-mail use and more use of technologies like wikis and blogs to share information to wider audiences. "It has to be so easy to use so people vote with their clicks," he said.

Redshaw sees speedy collaboration as an intangible benefit. "I don't beat Nokia or Cisco or Siemens by having better buildings or shinier cafeterias," he said. "Companies are human beings solving problems or responding to crises by working with each other. If you can make your company less of a top-down company at a higher speed than your competition, you have just kicked their butts." It's a bit like trying to set up an unfair game of chess, Redshaw said, where Motorola can make three moves to every competitor's one.

Still, Enterprise 2.0 technologies don't exactly make for easy ROI calculations, which Redshaw readily admits. Instead, he chats up how exactly work has changed since Motorola has implemented Intranet 2.0. Inside the IT organization, product development times have shortened considerably. Instead of developing a different pitch for every client, salespeople can now reuse information that might be posted on a wiki. And in Motorola's Dallas distribution center, employees clicking on mobile alerts that come to their smart phones are sent directly to a wiki to troubleshoot problems, rather than being left scratching their heads over some problem.

The team creating an Enterprise 2.0 platform for a company is key to Redshaw. The smaller the team, the better.

"If you have a big team, it gets out of control," he said. A four person team manages Motorola's entire blog, wiki and forum environment. Of course, he also points to finding the right people and putting in place an enterprise architect who understands information architecture to oversee the projects and "nudge people in the right direction."

Another challenge Redshaw notes is the question of how to build. Does a company let different units adopt the technology, or should it be a controlled roll-out? The locked-down approach has worked for Motorola because though Enterprise 2.0 technologies might start small, they can quickly become unwieldy. "If you let people build this in pockets, when it gets big, you will have this enterprise layer of spaghetti that you will never align," he said.

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