Apply Enterprise 2.0 to Business Processes to Reveal Its Value

By Ethan Yarbrough posted 10-19-2010 00:44


In June I attended the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston. At the time, I reported on my company blog that, finally, the conversation among the E2.0 kool-aid drinkers at the conference was getting practical. They were actually talking about how to maximize ROI on social collaboration platforms.

My key take-away from that conference was that tying your Enterprise 2.0 efforts to real, measurable balance sheet issues is the best way to quickly yield a positive return on your investment. Six areas mentioned at that conference as areas ripe for Enterprise 2.0 improvement were:

  1. Sales acceleration
  2. Better inventory replenishment
  3. Time savings
  4. Faster ramp up of new employees, faster to productivity
  5. More diversity in collaboration groups that can lead to better innovation
  6. Reduced training costs

All six of those areas are attached to numbers in your balance sheet. If you improve your management of them by applying Enterprise 2.0 tools to make them more efficient, you should be able to see the results in your balance sheet as better financial performance numbers.

This push toward the practical is continuing. Partly because the changes in work habits and arrangements that people have been predicting for several years are becoming an overwhelming reality.

I mentioned in my last post that I would be speaking at Seattle SharePoint Palooza 2010. The conference was designed to educate attendees about Microsoft SharePoint 2010, its capabilities and the work arrangements it can support.

After my presentation on “Leveraging SharePoint for Employee Engagement”, I had the opportunity to hear several other presentations.  There was a practical streak running through all of them. The advice from the speakers I heard centered around how to maximize the operational impact of SharePoint within organizations that had implemented it. One speaker after another pointed out that the most important thing to do is to apply SharePoint to existing business processes. Business process improvement: that is the promise of SharePoint specifically, but it is the promise of Enterprise 2.0 in general.

And if your goal is to reveal the value of Enterprise 2.0 – whether you’re using SharePoint or Cisco, or SAP, or IBM, something else -- figuring out what pain exists in the processes your employees are engaged in and then eliminating that pain is the best thing you can do. Adoption will take care of itself if what you give them makes their business processes more effective.

And I also came away from SharePoint Palooza more convinced than ever that the question of “if” a company should adopt Enterprise 2.0 tools to connect employees and support processes will very soon be a moot one. It will be replaced by the question of “what” processes to apply the technology to and “when” and “how”, but “if” will not be part of the debate.

I was moved to think that after listening to the keynote address by Microsoft Vice President Margo Day. She delivered some eye-opening comments:

  • 70% of IT budgets are currently spent maintaining inflexible and siloed data center equipment. Companies know this is not a sustainable model and are looking for alternatives.
  • 80% of large enterprises are at least in trial stages for cloud computing initiatives
  • 63 million American workers will be working remotely by 2014 (that’s about 50% of the total workforce)
  • 84% of companies currently have at least a part-time remote work arrangement for employees

All of this just reminds me that our vanguard present always becomes our own primitive past.

15 years ago I sat in the living room of my friend’s house. I was at his house warming  party. As I sat there I listened to a group of young, newly-moneyed professionals comparing investment opportunities. The idea that attracted the most excitement that evening was satellite internet. The day would come, argued one couch-sitter, when the internet would enter your home as a signal beamed from one of a group of satellites circling the earth. No more phone lines and modems. “Right now,” he insisted, “Bill Gates and Craig McCaw are planning it. They’re buying up satellites. When they go public, get in on it. It’ll be huge.”

I made a mental note to remember that. Then I got busy and it slipped my mind. Did that ever happen?

We’ve come a long way from that point, but we’re really only getting started.

#sharepoint2010 #ROI