Web 2.0 concepts to lead your organization
By Kim Marcille
the Information Age, every organization must have command of its
flow of information in order to be effective and flourish in today’s
economy. Web 2.0 technologies have emerged to allow richer, more
meaningful collaboration between users by making information
handling practices more transparent and accessible. These same
technological ideas can be used to accomplish similar results in
people find the SLATES acronym created by Andrew McAfee in his
paper, “Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration,” to be
helpful when defining the characteristics of Web 2.0 technologies:
Search, Links, Authoring, Tags, Extensions and Signals. Focusing on
the first three of these concepts and combining them with the
following tips will help you lead your organization to treat
information as the asset it really is.
Information is only valuable when it is accessible and can be
found. Search is improved when multiple users participate in
building the informational index.
organizations large and small, information critical to the operation
is tucked away in file drawers, individual hard drives and people’s
heads. Passwords, processes, equipment settings, critical contacts,
customer preferences, system limitations and project statuses are
examples of important data that may be difficult to access. In
fact, some employees may hoard this kind of information in order to
ensure their own importance to the organization.
leader, it’s important to communicate not only the value of sharing
information transparently and lifting it out of obscurity for the
common good, but also the intrinsic value of information itself. You
can do this by providing a platform where information can be shared
and stored, and asking members of the organization to contribute and
index the content.
process you may discover that multiple platforms are needed. For
example, a team working on a new product can share their development
process and ideas via a blog anyone in the organization can read and
comment on. The sales team may need a customer relationship
management system to track all the relevant information about their
customers. The marketing department might need a contact management
system to determine which efforts are working better than others.
The intelligence that can be gathered from the reports the latter
two platforms generate can be quite significant and improve business
these platforms are available as online applications, meaning you
subscribe to a hosted service versus purchasing software outright,
which is often less expensive. Some of today’s platforms are even
free, such as Google’s Blogger (www.blogger.com), or Zoho’s
collection of business solutions (www.zoho.com).
the flow of information and making it easily accessible to a wider
audience, that audience can help spot trends, identify problems and
gaps, and connect disparate sources of information to build more
in-depth pictures of the company’s performance.
Some information is more important than other information. The way
you can discern that online is by how many links to the information
have been established. Again, the larger the group deciding
importance, the more valuable the links will be.
What’s the most important information in your organization? What
information keeps the competition at bay, the corporate machine
functioning, or the revenue coming in the door? Who gets to decide
small group of executives, managers or departmental employees make
decisions about what to publish to the rest of the organization, you
can be sure that some of the most important information will be left
out. That’s because despite the best intentions, the small group
will view the project from an inside perspective. Even if the
formal process of building the information source includes testing
by others for quality and completeness, gaps will still exist. To
close those gaps, you would need the opinion of every person
involved. Luckily, there’s a way to get that.
your information sources as works in progress versus finished
goods. A living, breathing, constantly updated network of
information will best serve the dynamic and as-yet-unknown needs of
the organization. Secondly, give every person possible in the
organization the opportunity to participate at inception. The
interaction between the largest possible group of users and the
content will make evident which are the most critical pieces of
information across the company, as the group chooses what to link to
and use, and what not. (This is true for outward-facing information
sources as well, as users choose which links to click on. The
audience in this case is comprised of your customers, vendors and
other interested parties.)
Authoring is the ability to create constantly updated content that
is shared with other users in a way that allows them to update,
comment on or correct what has been captured.
organization, there are voices dying to be heard. You might have
heard these voices in the form of employees asking you for personal
audiences, or the technician with the great ideas servicing your
computer, or your top salesperson sharing the secret of her
success. How can you capture and capitalize on the valuable
knowledge of all of your company’s employees?
Web 2.0 tools such as wikis and blogs, the collective consciousness
of the organization can be laid bare for all to see. This is
particularly true if executive leadership does not censor the
content, but rather establishes rules around the use of the tools.
For example, it’s OK to express your negative opinion about one of
the company’s existing products, but it’s not OK to use foul
language or verbally abuse fellow workers. The establishment of
policies that will encourage constructive information sharing will
have to come from a thought leader on the topic—you?
also check out information sharing tools such as WebEx WebOffice (webex.com/smb/weboffice.html),
Microsoft’s Sharepoint (www.microsoft.com/sharepoint), or Google
Docs and Google Sites (www.google.com/apps/). Whether the
information is in the form of documents, slide presentations,
spreadsheets or databases, you can use these applications to make it
available to everyone, and everyone can contribute.
The more authors you engage in the process of building up the
informational foundation of your company, the richer and more
meaningful that foundation will become. On that foundation, you can
build a new, more collaborative environment that encourages and
rewards the sharing of ideas – the kind of environment that may well
yield the answers to today’s challenges and tomorrow’s strategy.
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