Well, there’s been a lot of buzz both before and since Enterprise 2.0 San Francisco in San Francisco on the question of whether or not Enterprise 2.0 is a crock. Put another way, can Enterprise 2.0 tools and technologies deliver tangible business benefits with tangible use cases in support of the tools?
Anyone that knows me knows by now that I believe the answer to this is Yes – Enterprise 2.0 can provide tangible business benefits supported with tangible use cases and I’m going to share a few with you here that we’ve realized since the creation of our enterprise community two years ago, which supports blogs, wikis, discussions and user profiles, to name a few things.
I will say right up front that we never identified success for our initiative as 100% user adoption. Not only do I feel that 100% adoption is unrealistic, but I also don’t believe that Enterprise 2.0 is for everyone. I think that a lot of people can realize benefits from using the tools available to them, but I do not believe that there’s any “one size fits all” tool for any organization. If that were the case, we wouldn’t still have people using interoffice mail, leaving post-its on our desks, leaving voicemails, sending emails, etc. We’d have everyone using only one way to communicate, and I don’t think I need to say that this view of the world is completely unrealistic.
I’ll say again what I said on the panel I participated on at Enterprise 2.0 – Enterprise 2.0 is not a cure-all or fix-all. It’s an enabler. Here are some examples of what it’s enabled at EMC in just two short years:
One of the many challenges that large, geographically dispersed organizations face is bringing employees together to collaborate. It’s not that employees don’t want to collaborate; it’s that they have no way of knowing who is working on similar projects or facing similar problems around the company or around the world unless we enable and encourage them to share them somewhere.
That’s exactly what we’ve done on EMC|ONE – provided a platform that enables global, searchable access to conversations and content so that employees can connect with others facing the same challenges and share what has worked, what hasn’t and brainstorm on what to try next. A memorable story that has been shared with me, and that I like to retell is the salesperson in Australia who connected with the salesperson in North America about a deal on a specific product, against a specific competitor and they shared how they went into the sales call, collaborated on things that worked or didn’t, and ultimately won the deal. So, if I knew the dollar amount of that deal, I could conceivable call those dollars ROI.
Content and conversations that occur via email or presentations stored on people’s hard drives is arguably essentially lost when that employee leaves or their computer get fried or stolen unless they’ve happened to share that content with others and/or done regular backups of their content – neither of which always happens in a predictable fashion.
EMC|ONE provides employees a venue to share their content and have their conversations and ultimately helps to preserve that conversation and the though process behind it, along with any content that was shared in the context of the conversation. It also makes it accessible to other employees in a searchable community of information for reference, collaboration and updates, as needed. EMC|ONE has also helped many employees reduce redundant requests for information as these employees share and document their information and FAQs in the community, they have a central location to point people to for consistently requested information, and reduce their own personal email and phone traffic and free up their time to work on other things.
One of the biggest frustrations I hear from employees is that they have to wait on or even track down information they’re looking for, which wastes time, money and effort on a consistent basis. I’ve heard, (I think it was in Dion Hinchcliffe’s workshop at Enterprise 2.0) that the average employee spends an hour a day looking for information, searching through old files, emails, etc. and boy do I believe it.
A story that I consistently hear from our sales folks is how wonderful it is for them be able to search our competitive community on EMC|ONE and find real-time information and updates about competitors. They also love the ability to ask a question and have anyone in the company be able to answer it instead of just whoever is on a distribution list they send an email out to.
Following up on the example above, folks also are very happy to have access to a location that has FAQs to various questions they need answers to without having to wait to hear back via phone or email when time is of the essence. Depending on the person and amount of time they spend searching for information, this savings could be minimal to a fairly substantial amount.
For the past three years, EMC had held an annual innovation conference, and it has been planned during the past 2 years on EMC|ONE and then the summary, wrap up, photos, etc. are also shared on EMC|ONE. That in and of itself (using EMC|ONE as the coordination point) has not increased innovation, but what it has done is helped to increase worldwide awareness of the importance that EMC places on innovation and it has increased access to the information, ideas, and proposals that were submitted for the innovation conference by EMC employees.
In addition to the annual Innovation Conference, employees innovate on EMC|ONE every single day by coming up with creative new ways to address problems, challenges, and concerns on a wide variety of topics (products, customer support, solutions, internal issues, software challenges, you name it) they are facing. Not only that, they work with other employees that they would not have otherwise had an opportunity to work with had it not been for EMC|ONE.
At EMC, customer service is of the utmost importance. Our internal employee support forums for solving customer issues are, as of this weekend, now hosted on EMC|ONE. But long before the official migration happened, there have been all sorts of examples of employees collaborating together to make customer service as good as it can be. They work together, similar to the example above with innovation, on a wide variety of topics that concern EMC customers and creatively come up with new ideas and solutions to a wide variety of issues. Have some of those efforts kept customers and/or gotten us new customers? Yes, they have, and that in and of itself is an immensely powerful ROI.
I’ve read varying articles on how much it costs to replace an employee that leaves the organization and it seems relatively consistent that it’s around 150% of the employee’s annual salary to resource, interview, hire, and train a replacement employee for someone who quits.
I can tell you without a doubt, that many, many of our employees have shared stories with us (that were not solicited) about how much more connected they feel to the company since EMC|ONE began two years ago. A few examples:
I cannot think of a time during my 20 years at EMC when I felt more informed, involved, and confident in myself and the business before EMC|ONE. ~EMC|ONE User
No other corporate resource gives me more value than EMC|ONE. I feel connected with what is going on, I understand our direction, and I get great satisfaction from contributing to people and initiatives across the organization that before I didn’t even know existed. ~EMC|ONE User
There has been no single resource which has added as much value to me, my customer messaging, and my understanding of EMC as EMC|ONE. I am part of the silent majority, who rarely makes the time to post, but gains tremendous value from this fantastic glimpse into the breadth of EMC. ~EMC|ONE User
What I don’t want folks to think is that I think is that Enterprise 2.0 is a piece of cake, that it’s easy or that it will fix all of your problems. It’s not a piece of cake, it’s not easy, and it won’t fix all of your problems. What it will do is begin to connect employees to one another that have never had an opportunity to connect before and possibly never would have if it hadn’t been for our efforts. It takes a lot of hard work and effort to even begin an Enterprise 2.0 initiative, let alone sustain it and grow it and assist in continuing along the path to reach its full potential. We certainly didn’t do everything perfectly. Tell me who has and I’m happy to listen. I am proud that we are trying, and continue to try to enable employees to get more done with less, be more connected with one another and work, and find increased job satisfaction.
Do I think Enterprise 2.0 is a crock? Nope. But what do think is that companies that don’t take it seriously and start investing in researching what it can do for them might just find themselves at a significant competitive disadvantage in the very real and near future.
To companies and individuals that ignore the potential that Enterprise 2.0 has to offer or call it a crock, I’d say – Be careful, that crock’s teeth are very sharp and it's liable to bite you when you least expect it.