Davenport Versus McAfee and Twitter

Andrew McAfee and Tom Davenport squared off today on a debate on Enterprise 2.0. This was rematch from their debate back in June at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston.

I was disappointed that the webinar was less of a webinar and just a conference call. However, that lack of visuals allowed me to jump into a twitter and have a discussion with Luis Suarez, Dennis Howlett, Ami Chitwood, kellypuffs, Steve Matthews and others. At the time I was sitting in a conference room with others from my knowledge management department. It was interesting to hear the take of Tom Davenport about how enterprise 2.0 tools are interesting, as I was listening to the debate, discussing it among my team and twittering across the globe at the same time.

As for the debate, I think Davenport was getting hung up on the term “Enterprise 2.0.” His take was that Enterprise 2.0 is an over the top terminology. My take has always been that enterprise 2.0 is short for “web 2.0 applications brought inside the enterprise.” I do not think the tools themselves are going to change the way business operates. The way business operates is already changing. Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams have an excellent presentation on this in Wikinomics. The Web 2.0 suite of tools has created a new way to communicate. One that can be outside the traditional boundaries of business. As the tools do a better job of memorializing the communication, this non-hierarchical communication is on display for everyone to see.

Frankly, I thought Davenport was spending most of his time quibbling over language. For a lawyer like me to think that someone is quibbling over language, it must have been really bad.

McAfee broke Enterprise 2.0 down into three parts. First are the tools. Blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, linking, tagging and robust search do make it much easier to organize, find and disseminate knowledge. Second are the change management issues. The organization needs to embrace a more open method of communication. The firm needs to realize that communication does not happen through a hierarchy. Third are the signals from management. Management must not only permit a more open dialog, they need to encourage it and participate in it themselves.

Everyone on Twitter was focused on the change management and management signals. I think we all agreed that if there was no culture for sharing, then the tools are not going to work. McAfee and Davenport also agreed on this point. Davenport just thought the tools are not all that different than the tools that have been previously been available.

I disagree with Davenport on this point. I think the suite of Enterprise 2.0 tools are much easier to learn and use than existing tools. If they are easier to learn and use then more people are going to use them. Also, I think the Enterprise 2.0 tools are more powerful and offer the individual user much more benefit than existing tools. I use my wikis, because I capture the information in them better for myself than any other tool. The wikis work as a better communication tool within the group because the message is made, synthesized and preserved in the wiki. Emails and word documents cannot do that.

Although I found the debate interesting, I found the reactions and discussion on Twitter to be more interesting and really enhance the experience of the webinar. I have never been a big user of Twitter. But this was great use for it. (An interesting note about Twitter is that it was set up by the same person who originally created blogger: Evan Williams.)

3 thoughts on “Davenport Versus McAfee and Twitter”

  1. Great post – Just goes to show you that if you aren’t useing the tools (like Twitter) to have a conversation, get feedback, you are burying your head in the sand – Davenport!

    Enjoyed the Twitter conversation and learned more there than I did on the call.

  2. Agree that this is a great, informative post, Doug. And I’m in on the 2.0 tools being immeasurably easier to use than, say, an enterprise content management system (one comes to mind but I’m too polite to say which).

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