Reshaping Your Business with Web 2.0
Chapter 9: Putting Web 2.0 to Use in the Enterprise: Higher Value from Greater Participation
|This chapter from Reshaping Your Business with Web 2.0 explains what Web 2.0 means for the enterprise, including options for Web 2.0 applications and Web 2.0 guidelines and goals to set for your business. In this section, learn about the Web 2.0 tools that can help your business get started, including Web 2.0 blogs, wikis and content management|
Table of contents:
Web 2.0 users, community and participation in the enterprise
Enterprise search and links for Web 2.0
Enterprise Web 2.0 blogs, wikis and content management
Tips for Web 2.0 success and setting Web 2.0 goals in the enterprise
New Web 2.0 tools: Beyond the basics
Tapping into Existing Flows
Along with creating opportunities for users to access content so they can bookmark, vote, blog, wiki, or e-mail links to it, the enterprise can supplement that explicit data stream by offering applications and content management systems and by measuring actual traffic for each document. This allows the inference not only of overall or local popularity but also of taxonomies, of recommendations about similar content. Potential privacy issues are associated with collecting fine-grained clickstream information: Not only must the anonymity of the data be secure, but it must be used only in aggregate. Ultimately, the goal isn't to replace explicit behaviors, but to supplement them in particular in the initial phases when only a few links are explicitly promoted by users. The distinction between implicit and explicit signals is akin to the distinction between data and metadata when it comes to content online: How content is characterized, classified, and organized eventually blends with the content being described, to augment and modify it based on the additional discovery entailed.
Just as critical to bootstrapping and ensuring the ongoing success of any Web 2.0 initiative is the need to maximize in-the-flow as opposed to above-the-flow interactions. Andrew McAfee coined the terminology in a January 2008 blog post about wikis, as summarized here:
- In-the-flow wikis let people do their day-to-day work in the wiki itself. These wikis are typically replacing e-mail, virtual team rooms, and project management systems.
- Above-the-flow wikis invite users to step out of the daily flow of work and reflect, codify, and share something about what they do. These wikis are typically replacing knowledge management (KM) systems (or creating knowledge management systems for the first time).
The underlying concept extends well outside the realm of wikis. And the issue with above-the-flow collaboration is generic: Contribution means interruption and translates into context switches, and as such it is far less likely to prevail naturally due to the overhead costs. However, tools can be wedged into existing tasks and functions to create opportunities for sharing and participation, instead on relying on employees to undertake a new set of additional tasks to kick start collaboration. Many of the woes of formal KM systems stem from their reliance on out-ofband requirements for updates to capture and maintain information, and as a consequence, KM databases end up both sparse and outdated.
It's worth considering the bottom-up dimension of Web 2.0 infrastructure and adoption patterns, and the consequences in terms of deployment, oversight, and formal involvement from the IT organization. As BBC long-timer and blogging enthusiast Euan Semple explained in a March 2007 post (see References), Web 2.0 will happen in the enterprise with or without IT assistance, and the best way to foster its spread within rather that outside of the firewall is to tread lightly: Sprinkle a few basic tools onto the infrastructure, stay out of the way, and engage those employees already involved in Web 2.0 activities on the greater Web to participate on the inside. At the very least, the grassroots nature needs to be seeded with the proper tools to facilitate the flow to enable integration with legacy tools and to power discovery features such as search. In other words, while Web 2.0 may just happen by itself, it won't be of much use and won't prove productive unless contributions are visible and integrated with the rest of the intranet cloud. The path Semple highlights allows for a progressive, iterative approach in which benefits can be reaped at little cost, allowing engagement to ramp up and participation to yield early yet significant benefits—from plain wikis, blogs, and bookmarking services—before necessitating deeper integration into legacy stacks and applications.
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Continue to the next section: Tips for Web 2.0 success and setting Web 2.0 goals in the enterprise