How come Enterprise 2.0 is not everywhere yet?

In his blog post, Arjun Thomas mentioned that Web 2.0 adoption in the corporate sector has been slow. This is indeed true and I will like to share my opinion on this.

There have been a lot of case studies citing successful implementation of Enterprise 2.0 throughout the world. Companies were quoted being able to cut down costs through improvement in productivity and knowledge retention. Some companies even improved their revenue due to new innovation through collaboration and fostering a closer relationship with the clients.

So the big question is, if Enterprise 2.0 is so beneficial to the companies, why aren’t every company adopting it?

In my opinion, the 3 barriers to Enterprise 2.0 adoption in corporate are

  1. the probability of success (ability to replicate the success enjoyed by other companies)
  2. the courage to invest (due to inability to guarantee the ROI)
  3. the lack of in-house expertise

1. The Probability of Success

First, according to the blog post posted at ZDNet, the typical failure rate for IT projects is 68%. This is despite the fact that most IT projects were kicked off with more well-defined requirements and structure. On the other hand, Enterprise 2.0 applications are more free-flow and unstructured in nature. Instead of clicking a button or filling a blanks, there are much more things that the user can do on a powerful and flexible Enterprise 2.0 application. Therefore the uncertainty level is much higher than typical IT applications.

While the request to adopt Enterprise 2.0 is high, a lot of people got the misconception that it can be done by just buying the enterprise 2.0 solution off the shelf.

To quote, Yuri Alkin:

No one (okay, almost no one) expects that buying a word processor can turn him into a great writer. Yet somehow it’s almost widely assumed that deploying tools labeled E2.0 would turn an organization into an E2.0 business.

I am sure that a lot of CEOs and CIOs are aware of this and therefore not that willing to commit themselves unless they can be assured of higher chances of success.

2. The Courage to Invest

As a business seeking profits, all companies will have to justify that all spending should eventually translate to lower cost or increased revenue (whether short-term or long-term). However, the benefits from adopting Enterprise 2.0 will need time to mature and bear fruit. And without a guarantee on the success, it makes it even harder for management to justify the ROI. This is not helped by the current poor economic climate.

3. The Lack of In-house Expertise

Despite the first 2 barriers, some companies are still willing to try. I do know of a few organizations that have installed wikis and blogs and tried to conduct some small trials. However, the results have not been encouraging. This is due to the lack of proper understanding on how to use the tools effectively. Here is an interesting negative example I have heard about wiki adoption. The team was asked to copy the content in their weekly progress report on word documents to the wiki at the end of the month. While the intention is correct, this creates extra work for all the staff.

As Enterprise 2.0 is an emerging concept with a wide variety to skill sets (beside technical skills), there aren’t a lot of people who are knowledgeable and proficient about that. Even though, there are a lot of discussions, training and workshop on this, it takes more than theory to execute the implementation perfectly.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explained his research that it takes up to 10,000 hours of practice to become a “world-class” expert at something, anything. But how many experts are there in the company that has done more than 1 successful Enterprise 2.0?


If you agree with my points or have any possible solutions, please drop a comment. If there is sufficient interest on this post, I will follow up in next post with a solution to tackle these barriers.

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  • Peter van Londen says:

    Hi Arjun,

    as requested: I agree with your view and would like to add one: the fear of sharing information for a lot of people as this leads to loss of his/her knowledge monopoly.

    I would be interested in a follow-up indeed.

  • Sim says:

    Hi Peter,
    Thanks for your contribution. You mentioned a valid point. In fact, we had a discussion about knowledge sharing.

    By the way, I am not Arjun, my blog post was inspired by Arjun though 🙂

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