Following on directly from his talk, Don Tapscott moderated a panel including Ross Mayfield of SocialText, Kim Polese of SpikeSource (who I saw speak about open source at the CMU West New Software Industry conference in April) and Joe Schueller of Proctor & Gamble.
Mayfield started off with some ideas about the complexity of social networks, and how some vendors attempt to translate that complexity into the software rather than providing simpler tools that encourage emergent behaviour by leaving the complexity with the people part of it. He illustrated the power law of participation, making the distinction between collective intelligence and collaborative intelligence, before moving on to a discussion of what to wiki. First, focussed on people, you can do an internal equivalent to Wikipedia, such as a part of your intranet; the challenge is that there may not be a specific goal associated with this. Second, focus on practice, and create a global glossary or how-tos which provides a practical but non-political reference application. Third, focus on project by creating a forum for project communication and lightweight content management. Fourth, focus on process by using a wiki for handling process exceptions. He finished up by announcing that SocialText launched WikiWidgets today, although I’m not clear at this point what exactly that is.
Polese talked about the enterprise benefits of Web 2.0, but also covered off some of the concerns: cost of the administration of point solutions, security, importing/including data from current information sources, and enterprise content management. She discussed their products, some of which provide testing and support frameworks for using open source in the enterprise, and one which appears to be an enterprise collaboration platform. I’ve seen so many things called “enterprise collaboration platforms” in the last two days, this is starting to be a bit meaningless.
Schueller was up last, discussing how P&G has relabelled their product R&D department to C&D, for Connect & Develop. They see the advantage of collaborating not just to harness technical ideas from all over, but cultural issues that might be relevant to a consumer products company like P&G. He sees this as a key part of business agility, as well as reducing product development costs and just creating better products from better ideas. They’re focussing on their core competencies rather than having to do everything themselves, which is something that’s happened in many industries such as manufacturing, but the idea that you can outsource your ideas is pretty innovative.
It’s like a sauna in the conference room and we’re now at 4:30 on a day that started with 8am sessions; and as we tail off to general questions on the panel, people start to trickle out of the room.
There was a good discussion on the potential for replacing email within the enterprise; Schueller said that he once made a bold statement that they’d just get rid of it, then had to eat those words as he discovered the (current) futility of declaring war on email. I think that there’s great opportunities to reduce email, using things like wikis for collaboration, and RSS feeds for one-way information dissemination (as we saw in the Bank of America presentation this morning), but we’re not going to see a significant decrease in email until more of the boomers retire and more of the MySpace generation gets into corporations to help shift the culture.