Video interview on Enterprise 2.0 by Melcrum/ KM Review


The other day Alex Manchester, Editor of the Melcrum publications KM Review and The Internal Comms Hub, did a video interview of me, covering a broad range of issues relating to Enterprise 2.0 and the application of social media inside organizations. The video is posted on the Melcrum Blog as well as below. Soon Melcrum will post a slightly longer version on their site – I’ll post the info on this when it’s available.

A brief summary of the questions and answers in the video are below.

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Microsoft, Facebook, and the shift of the platform to social networks


I was just interviewed on ABC Radio about Microsoft’s mooted acquisition of 3-5% of Facebook for US$500 million or so, as written about by the Wall Street Journal today. I’m severely jetlagged and it’s well past my bedtime, but I thought I’d make a few quick notes on points I raised in the interview that are relevant to this story.

Value is increasingly seen as shifting to social networks. When News Corp bought MySpace 2 ½ years ago for $580 million, I pointed out that what it was buying was the positioning at the interstices of people’s relationships. Media – as in the flow of information – is increasingly between people rather than in a hub and spoke arrangement, which makes social networking platforms central to value creation.

Social networking platforms have figured out what works. Since 2000 when made the first bold attempt to create a system to create value from linking people and subsequently failed, social networks have gradually improved to the point where they are drawing in a massive number of participants. MySpace was the first true success story, and in absolute numbers is still far larger than Facebook. However Facebook has translated MySpace’s success to a professional and arguably more diverse demographic, through different positioning and features. Social networks are rapidly becoming central to people’s interaction with the online world.

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Facebook and portals in the workplace


Following close on the heels of SurfControl’s Facebook-is-costing-the-Australian-economy-$5-billion! story and some of the more balanced media response, Sophos, another internet security company, has released survey results saying that half of all companies restrict access to Facebook. Apparently 43% block Facebook outright, while 7% more give access only when it is deemed relevant. These figures may be correct, but without any methodology being released that I’m aware of, they are certainly suspect given the biased source of the data. I’m presuming that the figures are for the US only, as most non-US organizations are unlikely at this time to have explicitly banned Facebook, though its soaring international usage is putting it clearly on the agenda for corporate filters.

Interestingly, the survey apparently also noted that many of the other 50% of organizations were deliberately allowing Facebook either for the explicit networking value of the tool, or in order not to annoy their staff.

Richard MacManus has provided his usual insightful and considered views on the issue, noting that Facebook is effectively a portal that aggregates many applications, including many that are absolutely work-oriented. He points to an earlier post on Read/Write Web listing 10 work applications on Facebook among the hundreds of applications available, including To Do lists, Email, Calendar, Online Word Processing and Groupware. Of course the reality is that most people are using Facebook primarily as a work and social networking tool, and for many of the fun applications available within the platform, with work applications so far gettting little traction.

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“Facebook ban a little hasty”: counting the benefits of social networks to the enterprise


Following up on yesterday’s kerfuffle on Facebook in the enterprise, the Australian Financial Review has an article on page 3 titled “Facebook ban a little hasty”. While briefing mentioning the spurious numbers provided by SurfControl, they report that Pacific Publications, a major magazine publisher, has banned employees from accessing Facebook, while law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler blocks Facebook from 8am to 6pm. Apparently in the case of Pacific Magazines, bandwidth and system crashes were mentioned as reasons for the ban. They quote Bruce McCabe of S2 Intelligence describing their approach as “amateurish” and saying “it won’t work and they will eventually get over it.”

The article finishes by quoting me:

But this should be contrasted with companies that actively encouraged their staff to use networking sites, such as Deloitte, IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers, IT commentator Ross Dawson said.

“Being able to reach out to the right person for expertise and knowledge – this is one of the primary values of any knowledge-based worker,” he said.

All in all, a rather more balanced view than the scare-mongering appearing in most of the media yesterday. From here, the task is to educate the corporate sector more on the benefits of effective social networks inside and outside the organization, and how best to support it.

I also did three radio interviews yesterday, in each case the story being the benefits to organizations of their employees using social networks well.

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Ross Dawson answers six pressing questions on online social networking


I recently created a 4 minute video in which I briefly answer six questions on online social networking:

What are the benefits of online social networks?

How do I know if my obsession with Facebook has gone too far?

What is the etiquette for ignoring invitations on social network?

How do Australians compare with others in using online social networks?

Will email die now that all my friends keep in touch on Facebook?

What should companies think about their staff using social networks?

The video was created for an Australian audience, so for others, please draw your own implications on how your country compares on uptake of social networks. See here for recent figures on comparisons of the usage of online social networks US, UK, and Australia.

Launching the Web 2.0 Framework


[UPDATE:] We have taken the Web 2.0 Framework and applied it to the enterprise in our Implementing Enterprise 2.0 report – You can download Chapter 2 on Web 2.0 and the Enterprise here.

Alongside our corporate strategy consulting and research work in the media and technology space, Future Exploration Network has created a Web 2.0 Framework to share openly. Click here or on any of the images below to download the Framework as a pdf (713KB).

The intention of the Web 2.0 Framework is to provide a clear, concise view of the nature of Web 2.0, particularly for senior executives or other non-technical people who are trying to grasp the scope of Web 2.0, and the implications and opportunities for their organizations.

There are three key parts to the Web 2.0 Framework, as shown below:

Web 2.0 Framework

Web 2.0 Framework

* Web 2.0 is founded on seven key Characteristics: Participation, Standards, Decentralization, Openness, Modularity, User Control, and Identity.

* Web 2.0 is expressed in two key Domains: the Open web, and the Enterprise.

* The heart of Web 2.0 is how it converts Inputs (User Generated Content, Opinions, Applications), through a series of Mechanisms (Technologies, Recombination, Collaborative Filtering, Structures, Syndication) to Emergent Outcomes that are of value to the entire community.

Web 2.0 Definitions

Web 2.0 Definitions

* We define the Web 2.0 Characteristics, Domains, and Technologies referred to in the Framework.

* Ten definitions for Web 2.0 are provided, including the one I use to pull together the ideas in the Framework: “Distributed technologies built to integrate, that collectively transform mass participation into valuable emergent outcomes.”

Web 2.0 Landscape

Web 2.0 Landscape

* Sixty two prominent Web 2.0 companies and applications are mapped out across two major dimensions: Content Sharing to Recommendations/ Filtering; and Web Application to Social Network. The four spaces that emerge at the junctions of these dimensions are Widget/ component; Rating/ tagging; Aggregation/ Recombination; and Collaborative filtering. Collectively these cover the primary landscape of Web 2.0.

As with all our frameworks, the Web 2.0 Framework is released on a Creative Commons license, which allows anyone to use it and build on it as they please, as long as there is attribution with a link to this blog post and/ or Future Exploration Network. The framework is intended to be a stimulus to conversation and further thinking, so if you disagree on any aspect, or think you can improve on it, please take what is useful, leave the rest, and create something better.

In the Framework document we also mention our forthcoming Future of Media Summit 2007, which will be held simultaneously in Sydney and San Francisco this July 18/17. In the same spirit as this Web 2.0 Framework, we will be releasing substantial research, framework, and other content on the Future of Media in the lead-up to our event, continuing the tradition from the Future of Media Strategic Framework and Future of Media Report 2006 that we released last year. Hope this is all useful!

Web 2.0 in the enterprise is far more than just talk


Two pieces of research just out show that the implementation of Web 2.0 in the enterprise is far more than just heady talk – there is already solid investment, and the intention of doing more with these technologies. In via Read/Write Web, Forrester has released the results of a survey of 119 CIOs on their use of Web 2.0 technologies. The headline results are that CIOs want to deal with the big boys. As IBM, Microsoft, Sun, BEA and their ilk release full suites of Web 2.0 tools, the CIOs are getting comfortable and buying. I wrote earlier in the year about how IBM’s releases of social media for the enterprise was driving acceptance in the corporate world. It seems this is indeed a key driver of uptake.


Source: Forrester

Separately, Nick Carr writes that McKinsey & Co is releasing the results of a similar survey tomorrow, so presumably this is pre-release info. In this case 2,800 exeuctives around the world responded about their current and planned investment in Web 2.0 tools. While the figures are “only” a third or so of companies, this certainly contrasts with the same few examples of Enterprise 2.0 being trotted out time and again at conferences. There are many, many companies implementing these technologies while being very guarded in talking about it externally. While I haven’t seen the full Forrester data, apparently this contrasted with the McKinsey results in showing wikis and RSS as being more popular than social networking and blogs.


While the two surveys are revealing different aspects of the situation, the unescapable conclusion is that there is a lot more happening in this space than is apparent to those reading the press and seeking specific examples. Many large corporates are implementing Web 2.0 tools, and this is a rapidly accelerating trend.

Enterprise 2.0 – are the differences philosophical?


A vigorous discussion continues on whether Enterprise 2.0 happens by itself or by design. Andrew McAfee says that he and Euan Semple agree “vociferously”. He also makes the very relevant point that “doing nothing” will only work well if companies don’t block access to online collaboration tools.

Dion Hinchcliffe points to organizations where the use of wikis and blogs has proliferated simply through user demand. He also notes that data is at the heart of corporate applications. As such, having many collaborative tools without a way to aggregate the information results in balkanization of corporate information. This is part of my point that higher level planning helps to unleash the power of participatory applications. He concludes his comments by saying:

“What’s a likely sweet spot for applying Enterprise 2.0 inside the firewall? Keeping adoption of your preferred tools simple within the complex landscape of your organization so users won’t prefer theirs; flatten your network as much as you can, open your systems using simple, open standards, and push the tools out fast (the network effect is pronounced with these tools so speed does matter). Make Enterprise 2.0 as simple as humanely possible for your organization in this framework, but no simpler.”

Dave Snowden distils the discussion to a “Weltanschauung for social computing”.He says:

“If you aim to influence, but not design evolution you have more control than if you attempt to design an ideal system.”

I absolutely agree. Corporations cannot design in detail emergent systems – this is an oxymoron. Yet they can influence these systems, by creating an environment that supports these high-value yet unpredictable outcomes.

Is Enterprise 2.0 easy or hard?


Euan Semple, formerly head of knowledge management at the BBC, has written a blog post titled The 100% guaranteed easiest way to do Enterprise 2.0?. His answer (in summary) is:




So is it that easy? Last week at Barcamp Sydney I bumped into James Robertson, who had recently been at FastForward conference (and been one of the writers on its the excellent conference blog). He told me that at the event there had been a fundamental disagreement between Euan and Andrew McAfee, the Harvard professor who has popularized the term Enterprise 2.0. Euan said that it was easy to make Enterprise 2.0 happen. Andrew said that it wasn’t. Andrew has written a great post about it that is well worth a read for the counterpoint. He says:

But it still felt as if most people weren’t with me — as if most participants in the round table felt that enterprise 2.0 was essentially a historical inevitability. So I asked for a show of hands. I asked “How many of us, when we look into the crystal ball that shows the organization of the near future — say 3 to 5 years from now — see widespread deployment of E2.0 technologies?”

Almost every hand in the room went up.

At this point I completely lost my poker face. I sputtered “You have got to be kidding me!!” or something equally profound as I stared around the room.

Very interestingly, Andrew brings up a analogy with the (lack of) success of knowledge management, a movement I was associated with back in the 1990s before I endeavored to distance myself from it (see my thoughts on the future of knowledge management written in 2004). Andrew says:

I reminded the audience that there were plenty of conferences devoted to knowledge management (KM) systems and approaches in past years, and that these events had almost certainly featured rooms full of enthusiasts wondering exactly what the future was going to look like, and probably paying very little attention to the possibility that the future would be KM-free. I asked the room how many people wanted to be remembered as this decade’s equivalents of KM enthusiasts and evangelists, and got a few chuckles.

James Dellow goes into this comparison in more depth, and seems to suggest that he’s prepared to back Enterprise 2.0 over knowledge management’s success.

I have to say that I’m on Andrew’s side on this one. I count myself as a true believer in Enterprise 2.0, but I’ve seen enough of organizations to know that the status quo has enormous power, and making good changes happen is never easy. In particular, unstructured implementation of social media tools in organizations will yield only a fraction of the value of a planned one. Yes I believe in emergence, but leadership is required to create fertile fields. If people try something once and it’s not useful, they won’t try it again. In particular, there are ways to structure how social media works so it creates valuable results in collaborative filtering and enabling useful connections. You don’t know what the results will be, but clear vision and specific planning and actions will make it far more likely to be valuable than just letting it happen.

Corporate blogging becomes Enterprise 2.0


Today BRW launched its flagship Australia Online issue (which is only available online at a hefty subscription price!), covering an interesting range of topics including the rise of online advertising (over $A1 billion annually now), e-commerce, online classifieds, travel, internet TV and music downloads. There is a truly atrocious full page picture of me facing their article “Business blogs on” (Don’t look – please!). This was intended to be a follow-up to their Blogging Power article of December 2005. In my interview for today’s piece, I tried to stress that the issue for corporates was no longer just blogging per se, but how activities across the enterprise are aggregated to enable more efficient working. The writer seemed to base the entire article on what we covered in our discussion, though only used a few anodyne comments from me. Certainly there is a real issue in getting corporates to use blogs for their external communication. Inside the organization, the game is now not about getting people to blog. It’s about creating an infrastructure whereby comments and activities by individuals have value across the enterprise. I’m hoping that Australian corporates will be able to leapfrog the phase of experimenting with blogs to start implementing enterprise-wide systems to tap collective behaviors, including document creation and viewing, bookmarking, annotating and more. A lot more on this later – I am currently developing a Web 2.0 framework (including enterprise and consumer), which I’ll launch sometime in the next few months.

Another article in the same issue was on internet TV and movie downloading, looking at competition among the online video platforms in Australia. I was quoted in the article (somewhat accurately) as saying:

Future Exploration Network chairman Ross Dawson says: “It surprises me how slow free-to-air TV channels have been to stream programs on the internet, especially as they can get a better idea of their audience on the net, and tailor advertising to suit them.”

Dawson says device convergence – such as Microsoft’s Xbox initiative – is also critical in how the market evolves.

“Manufacturers know convergence [will happen] and are desperately seeking to be at the centre of it,” he says. “ It happened with Apple. The sold people a physical device, an iPod, which led them to an internet site to make music purchases. Now this encompasses podcasts and video. They have moved from selling a single device to having a strong relationship with consumers selling content.”

Have a look at what I’ve written on how European telcos are positioning themselves to get some more insights into the foundations of this strategic positioning game.