I suppose that almost all larger companies have started investigating the potential of an enterprise 2.0/social business approach by now. A critical comment* at the latest conference made me think a lot about a particular quesiton: 

'Can isolated trials be a threat to the acceptance and eventual roll-out of an integrated social media solution?'

Socialcast.com and Yammer.com seem to be favored (cloud) services to test drive social media inspired exchange and networking amongst information and knowledge workers. One presenter even shared the fact that board members discuss quarterly results and other confidential stuff in closed groups (which made me cringe w/ regards to data security – and as an evangelist I am not even supposed to think that way). What happens through that approach is that users get used to a service design that is mainly geared toward exchanging information social media style. Building a corporate DNA from expertise and solution knowledge isn't really on their agenda (and why would it be…). Services such as BaseCampHQ have incorporated project management elements as well (pretty convenient ones I have to admin). However, what happens in the backend you don't really want to throw in the same bucket like professional DMS or archiving solutions.

At the end of the day employees use one "silo" to connect and exchange in a very efficient and fun way. Operational work is conducted in separate information and documentation silos that – if you want to keep it synched – requires duplication of information (*ieeek). On top of that at my employer we cannot exchange NDA-applicable information over any other channel than our proprietary ones anyway.

If corporate IT (teamed up w/ business of course) is now attempting to merge the two worlds and move away from two separate worlds, I am not exactly sure how users will react. Taking away what they've gotten used to and really enjoy in order to replace it with something that obviously is now supposed to add the corporate value perspective to the "let's network and collaborate" thinking. I actually believe that that move will to some extend always go hand in hand with a restart. In particular if the trial with the cloud based service ends and is now revamped based on a social media inspired business platform. The new platform will of course incorporate similar bells and whistles and allow users to apply their favored ways of communication and information exchange. The user experience however will change and the user will have to migrate to the new service, which is integrated with proper document and information management and archiving abilities – and properly indexed by enterprise search.

That migration from something that people have started to appreciate could be a threat to the acceptance and therefore long term success of a fully integrated enterprise 2.0 approach. Even though I know that this is real guessing I might have experienced the first signs of it in our own organization: when I (and I will never do sth similar again) commented on a discussion around Yammer that the service might be discontinued as soon as our proprietary and integrated service is live, hell broke loose. It took some time to calm down the waves and for me that was a clear sign of warning…

The comment on the silo or pilot group approach at the #epem conference in berlin brought up that memory again and I've been chewing on it ever since.

Any opinions out there?

* the comment was more of a feedback on what was presented: I've seen a lot of social business stuff today. But most of them were trials or only available to limited groups in the company. I haven't seen any real social business solutions yet…

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