Is there Web 2.0 in your organization?

Yesterday, when I presented at the IQPC BPM summit in Toronto, I did a quick survey of the audience. How many IT versus business? About a 50:50 split. How many know what Web 2.0 is? Two hands went up, tentatively. How many have used Wikipedia? About 75%. I used this to launch into the part of my presentation about how Web 2.0/social networking ideas are changing businesses and starting to impact some of the collaborative aspects of BPM. There was a lot of discussion generated from this:

  • Software-as-a-service, and whether companies want to entrust their corporate data and applications to third parties. I pointed out that most of them, if they work for large organizations, already outsource their data centres: they just do it with IBM (or whoever took over IBM’s data centre hosting business) instead of If you do your homework and select a SaaS vendor with the appropriate service level agreements, privacy and security, there’s really no difference.
  • Capturing the wisdom of the masses within an organization, mostly through the use of wikis for some level of internal documentation. I told them about Avenue A|Razorfish, who create their entire intranet using a wiki, where anyone in the company can edit any page. I could see the eyebrows go up around the room, but as we talked about the benefits — more open culture, faster updates to information — I could see the idea start to gain a bit of traction.
  • Encouraging collaboration and team-building through the use of internal blogs, such as what IBM is doing: they only have 1% of their employees blogging, but that’s about 3,000 blogs. IBM’ers use them to find people inside the organization with similar interests, or with skills that might be of use in other areas.

I also pointed out how favourable this can be to the bottom line, since SaaS is typically purchased on a monthly subscription basis that falls well within the budget of most business departments, and open source wiki and blog software are free to download and install internally. For the public sector people in the crowd, trying to do more on a shoestring budget, this can make a big difference.

After the presentation, I had someone approach me to see if I could do a bit of private consulting just to bring him up to speed on all of these social networking technologies, from portals to RSS feeds to wikis and blogs; this made me realize that there’s a big gap between those of us who have been drinking the Web 2.0 Koolaid for a couple of years, and those who are just doing their jobs in the other 99.9% of the companies out there. On the way home, I thought about how it would be useful to do a series of posts on Web 2.0 for businesses; I know that this has been covered in other places, but obviously there’s still a need.

Then, at the Girl Geek dinner last night, I was seated beside Sarah Pullman, who told me about a workshop that she’s helping to organize: Web 2.0 and Your Organization:

Have you heard the buzz about Facebook, MySpace, blogging, and other popular social web tools, and wondered whether they could be useful to your organization… but not known where to start, or how to sort the good stuff from the hype? Come and learn from two of Canada’s top experts on web strategy and participation design for the not-for-profit sector, this July in Toronto.

The latest generation of Web 2.0 (or “social web”) strategies and tools offer powerful opportunities for organizations to improve the way they work, communicate their messages, empower others, and serve the public. In this workshop you will learn how the latest tools for online collaboration and community building can make your organization smarter and more effective.

It’s targetted at communications types in the not-for-profit sector (and the “socially-responsible small business sector”, although I’m not sure what business would admit to being socially irresponsible), including communications strategists, marketing managers, webmasters and anyone else involved in online (outward-facing) strategy. This is only a small part of the whole Web 2.0 in business picture, but it’s an important one.

3 thoughts on “Is there Web 2.0 in your organization?”

  1. Within our company (> 1.000 employees) it looks like I’m the only one who not only has heard of Web 2.0 but also continuously uses it. There are some who have heard of it but most of them think that it’s only something for a) tech geeks and nerds or b) teens telling platitudes.

    There is still great potential out there in the business but it’s difficult to impart knowledge of Enterprise 2.0 and that this can empower companies to succeed over other companies because of knowledge management.

    Management sometimes realizes that “rapid knowledge prototyping” lets information flow faster and better but seldom realizes that this also dramatically changes the processes, the organisation, the communications and the culture of a company.

  2. Okay, you’ve convinced me: I’m going to write some posts that can act as a practical guide to Web 2.0 in business, for non-geeks.

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