How to Build an E2.0 Platform That Employees Will Use

Rob Preston (Information Week) moderated a panel of Toby Redshaw (Motorola), Mike Fratesi (Cisco) and Oliver Young (Forrester). This was the most crowded presentation of the morning.

My notes:
No slides (I am little over PowerPointed. There were a lot of abusive PowerPoint presentations.)

IDEAS an acronym at Motorola for their collaboration platform. 75,000 users are on each day(but only 63,000 employees; partners use the system). Their KM system includes blogs and wikis. They just added the feature and never trained people on their use. They have thousands of blogs and thousands of wikis. It has to be easy to very easy to use and very useful to get adopted.

Oliver’s research is on how to users to use the product. He sees a dichotomy. Marketing is excited about the tools and IT is afraid of the tools. IT wants to make sure they lock it down, they want to make sure that intellectual property is not walking out the door. He sees an analogy in instant messaging, which came into organizations without IT being involved in the process.

Mike comes from the perspective of the unified communications segment. Cisco is looking to meld UC and E2.0 together. There is lots of collaboration in real time; face-to-face and phone calls. He wants to pull the people, the processes, the information and the communications together. They are looking to build their people directory to be much more like MySpace. They are looking for ways to move information out of the email stream and reduce email traffic.

Toby runs the KM system with five people. They have hundreds of KM champions throughout the organizations. They shepherd the blogs and wikis. Toby seems agnostic to bad behavior in the blogs and wikis. He thinks over monitoring them will kill them because people will be afraid to use them. He advocates collapsing the hierarchy, empowering the workers. Put the community knowledge in the hands of the people who need it.

Oliver says a report that IT managers that said 20% of their employees are using blogs and wikis. Even those that said they are not purchasing them and supporting them still said 5% of their employees are using the tools. He sees the technologies coming in through SaaS. For short money, people can set up these collaboration tools outside the firewall. IT cannot prevent you from setting up an account on He also sees the technologies coming into the enterprise through the incumbents. Case in point is SharePoint’s wiki and blog capability. The issue is how to educate your employees on how to use these tools.

Back to Mike, who points out how the CEO is empowering department heads to increase collaboration. Cisco is revamping how they collaborate and how they communicate. They also are advocating that their customers use the tools and show them the benefit of using the tools.

Toby pointed out the need to get out in front of the adoption. If you let these sneak in , you will have migration, searching and upgrade problems. Toby thought there was no age split on use. Oliver thinks the split is whether the user is technologically inclined or not. He points out that Motorola and Cisco are technology companies where their employees are focused on technology. There is much more familiarity of young people with the Web2.0 technologies.

Oliver sees the need for KM champions and evangelists to use the technology and get their groups to use them. Then let it progress and spread throughout the organization. Oliver points out that email was not initially used and blackberries were feared. Now they are ingrained in the working culture.

Toby points out that it is really hard to measure. Companies built their physical space to have people meet, run into each other and collaborate. They do not run an ROI on the building. Toby thinks email is one of the worst things going on inside an enterprise.

Toby expects all the training to be one page. If it is more complicated than that, it is too complicated. He also sees a lot of IT success from “reverse training” where junior employees show more senior employees how to use technologies.

A question to Toby was whether the success of the E2.0 technologies was because of a change in culture or cause a change in culture. The new CEO did institute cultural changes. He required the groups to be focused around customers, he does not allow dissension, a lot of people left.

Toby thinks the executives should be making decisions and the workers should be collaborating.

Oliver points out that there is a group of people who will not change, but you need to make sure they are still in the loop. Mike said at Cisco if you do not use IM then you are left out of the communications channel. If you do not adopt you get left behind.

The benefit using a common platform is getting the unified search. (Dare I say enterprise search.) It also removes some of the complexity of having different user interfaces and operations.

This was a great presentation. Toby was a hoot during the presentation.

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