Sunday, September 3, 2006

Social software in the enterprise

Very interesting interview at Optimize (E2.0 Evangelists) with Harvard Business School professor Andrew McAfee and J.P. Rangaswami former global CIO at investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort.

An ERP system is a platform, but it‘s extremely structured, and that structure is imposed from the start by high-up decision makers. And all the technologies we used that didn‘t impose structure weren‘t platforms; they were channels that you just used to zip information from one place to another. After you did that zipping, the trail vanished. E-mail is a great example of this. And what I started to see with blogs, wikis, persistent messaging, and things like and Flickr were a combination of platforms where contributions stuck around but structure wasn‘t imposed. When you start up a wiki, you don‘t say, “OK, here‘s the work flow and here are the roles and here are the identities.” You throw the doors open and watch what happens.

Also, J.P. is being modest. It takes a fair amount of insight to realize that there‘s a new collaboration model out there, and it takes courage to put it in place and sell it to very senior decision makers inside an environment like an investment bank, which isn‘t the most free-wheeling environment in the world, and convince them this is a smart and productive thing to do that won‘t get them into trouble. So J.P. had to see that and believe it up front. He had the fortitude to put his money where his mouth was and roll these things out bankwide with very few rules or policies or guidelines. And he had to trust that the people who were going to use it would do the right thing with it.

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