I love the title "Reality Check 2.0" but all credit should go to Susan (citation link below).
This recession/depression is poised to eclipse any downturn we’ve seen in our lifetimes. As I canvas the Enterprise 2.0 landscape, I find myself wondering: what is our killer economic crisis app/movement? Twitter? Facebook? Will we save the U.S auto industry by social networking?
I can assure you, there will be no Federal bail outs for 2.0 startups. Some startups will stretch their life expectancy with VC funds, but at the end of the day, it’s show time. How will you help your customers and future customers grow or at least sustain their business through this economic downturn?
The Enterprise 2.0 Advisory Board is convening in an online forum to discuss themes for this year’s conference. The conversation quickly migrated beyond the soft benefits of social collaboration to the hard, measurable benefits businesses need when navigating through tough times.
Susan generously quotes me in here blog post (copied below). The economic crisis will bring a level of sanity to the irrational exuberance associated with various catch-phrases (e.g., Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, social media, social networking, etc). The next 12-18 months will be time for "pragmatic due diligence" when it comes to social software. This emphasis on a realistic approach towards solutions driven by social software should not be an excuse for IT organizations to protect vendors they are comfortable with - this crisis could easily become a situation where IT groups leverage "cost reduction", "infrastructure overlap", and "integration complexity" as excuses to get rid of smaller vendors and retreat into comfort zones with platforms they identify with to a greater degree than the business areas they support.
I can already imagine lines like "we're reducing costs by getting rid of (insert E2.0 vendor here) because we've already paid for SharePoint and Microsoft promises that they will have a better (insert E2.0 component here re: blog, wiki, social networking) capability in the next release". Never mind that in the two years that this might be the case (and I stress the word "might"), you have to ask yourself - what business value will not have been realized by using bad tools instead of good tools? And by forcing bad tools on users - will we "poison the well" and make people less receptive to working differently based on a bad experience? Changing behaviors and getting people to alter their mindset concerning what tools to use has always been a huge barrier in the collaboration space.
In a recent post (Reader's Corner), I identified a misplaced focus on platforms, suites and point solutions when it comes to social software re: "those are valid discussions at some point - but you need to think about the change you're trying to bring about (business-wise and in terms of organizational dynamics)." A rational and architectural approach towards reducing vendors is a credible tactic - defacto tossing them under the bus is not so credible.
Pragmatic due diligence means that in addition to a return-to-basics (see the quote below), we also need to have a more thorough understanding of how user experience and adoption scenarios influence success. Right now we tend to think in terms of "deployment" when it comes to social software. Assessing adoption is more critical and represents a type of ROI that is hard to determine - IT organizations usually follow a Plan-Build-Run framework that often means Plan-Build-Runaway after the system is deployed. But since many social applications are not transactional or process-specific in a traditional sense (they can augment such systems, or be used in their own unique way) - it means we need to establish methods around adoption practices to gauge how people really get work done and how work models change as a result of social applications (which relates back to "due diligence - establishing a standard of care").
I don't believe that the pendulum will swing so far to the other extreme that all projects involving blogs, wikis, social networks, etc. will be suspended or canceled outright. Those involved in such projects however need to pragmatically focus on some of the items listed below, become more specific in terms of what change the project will bring about, and be prepared for some realignment (e.g., of funding, resources, etc).
“Some of the phrases I keep hearing: 1. Efficiency (cost containment/avoidance, streamlining, etc.) 2. Execution (all-things-lean, process refinement) 3. Effectiveness (process and people performance, measurable productivity) 4. Rationalization (of budgets, of projects, of platforms) 5. Governance and metrics to support the above. Operations (run the business) and investment to protect top/bottom line engines (grow the business) are still ok – transformation unless it maps into some of the above areas is more discretionary – a good strategist will not cut to the bone… but overall – it’s a run/grow the business more than transformation. Business transformation (at least in my head) is more than just changing a process. Anything “soft” is getting a hard look – sure – some savvy execs will keep a portfolio perspective and still invest in some long-term areas and not slash things to the point that when the economy rights itself they are strategically behind but they (1) may not have any choice and (2) may not get broad agreement from their peers.”
They also need to think not in terms of plan - build - run but perhaps more along the lines of observe - design - adopt when it comes to social software.