Archive for the ‘Collaboration’ Category

Markings: The Emerging Networked Enterprise

September 3rd

A global survey of business use of Web 2.0 by McKinsey and Co. (September 09 McKinsey Quarterly) has offered new insight into the use of the Internet social media (How Companies are Benefiting from Web 2.0, McKinsey Global Survey). At this point in the evolution of the Internet this new survey gives powerful impetus to the argument that the new networked, collaborative marketplace is creating a platform for innovation – at least for those who are participating.

In the past several years there has been an explosion in the popularity of social media, what are often called Web 2.0 technologies. Wikipedia explains that Web 2.0  is “web development and web design that refers to interoperability, user centered design and collaboration” on the world wide web.” The technology of web 2.0 – wikis, blogs, “folksonomies” – and 2.0 sites allows the users to change the content as opposed to the interactive sites of web 1.0 which allow only the passive viewing of information that is provided.

The phrase 2.0 is attributed to Tim O’Reilly and a 2004 conference that he hosted in which Internet experts gathered to survey the wreckage of the dot com crash. What they observed was that even though the Internet bubble and its hyperbolic rhetoric (Web 1.0) following Netscape going public in 1995 had clearly crashed, there were many new models that showed promise. Indeed, the users were changing the way in which they used the Internet.

One family of new models that has offered strong hope for the new media has been called Web 2.0.   From Wikipedia, to eBay to YouTube to Google Maps, there have been multiple examples of new web applications in which the users create content. Simply to be able to accelerate the process of reaching out and obtaining new ideas seemed to drive innovation. Many early spotters of new trends such as, the Aspen Institute studied the potential for the use of social media to “co-create value.”

There has been interest in the business community in the capacity of Web 2.0 – interactive social media – to add value in a commercial context. Books such as Groundswell have documented the multiple personalities of on-line information consumers and interactors and contributed to understanding that there are many ways in which individuals consume information on-line. The growing popularity of social media has fostered a mini-industry of comment.

But is it real? Have the Web 2.0 technologies proven to be worth the overhead?  So what did McKinsey find?

➢ Internally, within companies, Web 2.0 tools increased the speed of access to knowledge (68% of the respondents with an average of 30%) and reduced communications costs (54%). In customer facing uses, a majority reported increased marketing effectiveness (52%) and customer satisfaction (43%). And in working with business partners and suppliers there was also an increased access to knowledge and access to experts.

➢ Equally powerful there are reports of faster time to market (25%) and development of innovation (25%). These reports of internal improvements were essentially matched by applications related to the customer and the business partners.

➢ Perhaps it should not be surprising that in considering the applications that are gaining prominence have been the ones that illustrate the revolution in communications – the sharing of video (48%), blogs (47, 51 and 51% – internal, marketing and collaborative applications), RSS (syndication) and social media. In general half of the respondents were reporting at least one instance of seeing an impact from the 2.0 media and a quarter were reporting measurable benefits.

➢ The survey’s results would seem to set aside the discussion of whether or not the social media will find an application in the commercial marketplace. Clearly for many businesses throughout the world there is a significant ongoing development of interactive technologies for internal communications, enhanced marketing communications and communications with partners and suppliers.

➢ Yet there were a third of the companies in the survey who have yet to find any impact from the social media either because they have not yet tried it or found the help needed to make it effective.

In looking across the technologies that were included in McKinsey’s global survey, there would appear to be three categories that are drawing interest:

• Communications technologies: video sharing, blogs, RSS (real simple syndication), microbloggimg

• User generation of content: wikis, podcasts, rating, tagging, and P2P (peer to peer), and

• Analysis or processing of content: mashups (where multiple streams of data are combined in a single tool).

Almost in this sequence the survey respondents reported their observation of at least one instance in which value was created or where they found measurable value through the use of 2.0 technologies.

In sum, and perhaps most interestingly, McKinsey found the emergence of a new corporate model, a networked enterprise, in which these advanced communications technologies were being used to enhance communications within functions and across the enterprise and were then being built into interaction with customers and suppliers/partners.  Expect the next reports to be on the cost effectiveness and productivity of the networked enterprise (results will be mixed) and on the competitive success of the new form (they will be the ones who prevail in their marketplace, often because of their innovative successes.)

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Transparency: The Game Is Afoot

August 22nd

The Washington Post (Ed O’Keefe) reported that the Obama Administration took another step to give reality to its transparency policy.  The Administration continues to spend the money (nearly a trillion dollars) that was authorized in the stimulus bill.  Officials publish press releases and hold events to announce that they are spending the money on worthy causes.  They know how to do this; everyone who has served in government knows the routine.

But at the same time that this has been going on, plans have been moving forward to create transparency about what the money buys.  This means that at the same time that people in Washington are announcing that they are spending money, the grant recipients are going to publish – through the new technology of our time – where the money is going.  As O’Keefe reports, “a government Web site began accepting the spending and jobs data from grant recipients that will provide the first fact-based progress report about the economic recovery efforts.”

By mid-October the plan is for the data that is now being reported is going to be public.  This was the President’s promise.  Citizens will be able to know where every dollar went and what happened after it was spent.  But will they?  The concept is easier to describe than to imagine exactly what will happen.  “This is a game changer”, said one of the professional’s in this field, Donald F. Kettl, Dean of the public policy school of the University of Maryland.  The concept is that anyone will be able to go to and look up what happened to a specific grant.

So this raises a question or two.  The technology now makes this concept very doable.  The technical part, based on registering at a web site, creating data feeds and syndicating data to be collected by others, this is all pretty routine.  But its not routine at all for those who are the recipients of grants to will have to report what they are doing, to assess the results, to report it publicly and to deal with what happens next.  Dean Kettl candidly acknowledges that no one knows what will happen.

Each of the stages will be a challenge.  Knowing that you have to report, learning how to report the data – that will be a challenge for some.  Then knowing whether the reporting is accurate and if it is, what it means will be the most interesting part of the process.  Are the things that are being purchased with the money producing results?  Are the results worthy ones?

One debate that will most certainly come will be over whether the stimulus spending created jobs.  But jobs are only one of the goals of many of the programs.  And even if jobs are created, some will no doubt point out that they weren’t green jobs.  This may be one of the most trying challenges of all.  Will the world be mature enough to examine the extraordinary new data sources that is going to generate by the Gigabyte without demagoguery?

There might have been some suspicion that in spite the novelty of this new reporting system where the public will see the inner workings of government spending for the first time, it could be dreadfully boring.  What if no one comes to the party?  At this point, given the range of new sites and sourcing of information that has already been created, just the reverse seems likely.  Stay tuned.  This could become interesting.

The O’Keefe article from the Washington Post 8 21 09

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