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Writing the book on Enterprise 2.0

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HM: It would seem only natural that older workers would be somewhat hesitant to adopt 2.0 tools. Does your research support that impression?

McAfee: The generation gap definitely exists. There is something to this idea of digital native vs. digital immigrant, but there is an important exception. It is overblown, though. I hear over and over that the most prolific users are mid-career people, boomers, in many cases people on their way out the door who want to make sure that they leave their legacy and their knowledge behind. I also hear from a lot of companies that have gone a fair distance that the people on their way in, they might be more effective users of Twitter and Facebook, but they don’t know how the organization works yet. They just don’t know their way around. They don’t know how to get stuff done. So, their use of the social media is, in many cases, not that effective. Old dogs can learn new tricks because these tools are fairly easy to use, and once they get comfortable with putting their thoughts and putting their contributions out there, it is amazing how many of them will run with it.

HM: Can you share some examples of companies that have set up active social media engagement initiatives inside their organization? If so, is there a way that you can characterize the type of company, the type of manager, the type of CEO who may be pushing the buttons and pushing this organization into that arena?

McAfee: It’s a little bit hard to predict in advance, but there are a couple trends. High-tech companies are more comfortable with these tools and with using them. They tend to have younger workers and very technology-friendly work forces with very dynamic environments, so the knowledge capture becomes important. It’s not that surprising to me when I look around Google, for example, and see a bunch of people using a lot of these tools. However, you also see companies like Lockheed Martin very involved with Enterprise 2.0 technology. Northwestern Mutual Life is another good example. Procter & Gamble has been an early and deep user of the 2.0 toolset.

So, you see very big organizations in a wide variety of industries getting enthusiastic about this stuff. The closer we get to the new economy, the more traction you see, but there absolutely are these green shoots all over the economy. For me, it’s a little bit hard to predict what kinds of companies are going to be interested and what kinds aren’t. I always look to the senior leadership to see if they are sincerely interested in helping people collaborate, capturing what the organization knows. Do they really realize that it is a serious challenge? If they do, then chances are much, much higher that they are going to be interested in these tools.

HM: So, are you saying it follows the same path as any kind of KM initiative? Does it need senior executive support and encouragement?

McAfee: Well, Enterprise 2.0 often starts from the bottom and percolates upward in the organization. They start to plan to use the new tools, word spreads, and at some point, the hierarchy becomes aware of it. Then, they have a decision to make. Do we acknowledge this? Do we support it? Do we shut it down? Do the compliance issues and the Wiki issues make us very nervous? Do we put a huge amount of policy around it? Or, do we let this experiment continue? Or, do we actually throw our formal and informal support behind it and get on board ourselves?

HM: So, the compliance issue is something that is on everyone’s mind?

McAfee: On everyone’s mind. Yes.

HM: It wasn’t really all that long ago that people started looking at e-mail as a factor causing compliance vulnerability and risk. So, has that awareness been speeding monitoring of social media within an organization?

McAfee: Yeah, I think a lot of things combine to make the security issues jump into sharp relief very quickly here. But to pick up on your point, we’ve had fairly scary technologies around for a long time when you look at it from a compliance perspective. E-mail is a doubly frightening technology primarily because, like I said earlier, it travels through channels, and it is very hard for the organization as a whole to monitor it and find out if any problems are taking place. You remember when Eliot Spitzer made headlines the first time a few years back for prosecuting the big investment banks. What he did was compare their e-mails from the analysts’ e-mail traffic to the public pronouncement. I don’t think Enterprise 2.0 significantly alters the risk profile. It is exactly because these contributions take place on platforms, and they are universally visible. So, the instant something starts going wrong, the whole organization potentially can see it, flag it and deal with it.

HM: How daunting a challenge are the analytics and the risk assessment behind Enterprise 2.0 tools?

McAfee: I don’t find it that daunting. You can do a couple things. You can set up analytics. You can do ongoing searches, but more fundamentally, you can just say to your work force, "If you see a violation or a problem, just e-mail the compliance department."

The guys from Lockheed told a very interesting story. They are a very conservative organization, for good reasons. So, when they were rolling out their initial 2.0 toolset, the compliance officer said, "We will support this, but you need to put a little checkbox to flag any inappropriate contributions, and if that little box is checked, it will go immediately to the compliance department and we’ll deal with it then." So, they said fine, we’ll happily do that. I don’t think a flag has ever been used inside the company. In this day and age, employees know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

HM: Did Lockheed develop its own tools, have they purchased any software or are they using free services such as Twitter, Facebook or any others?

McAfee: They are using a mix of commercially available technologies and stuff that they have developed themselves. So, for example, they are using SharePoint as a base for some of their collaboration, but they have coded some of their own software. They have made some of the software they built themselves open source and throwing it back to the world to say, "Here, make further use of this."

HM: Do you generally find that companies are deploying commercially available tools rather than the popular Web 2.0 varieties?

McAfee: Yes. Generally, companies want something that feels a bit more enterprise-friendly that is not purely for the Web. Companies want tools over which they have more control.

HM: What would you say to a senior-level executive or that department manager or, you know, whoever might be in the role to advance Enterprise 2.0 initiatives in their organization?

McAfee: I usually ask a couple questions to probe what they’re really interested in. For example, is it a case that they want to let people who are already close colleagues collaborate, or do they want to let people who should be colleagues but aren’t connected? Do they want to help that connection get made inside the organization? So, by asking a few questions, you start to identify where the organization thinks the real opportunities are, and that affects both the technology you deploy and the things you stress when you’re doing the rollout.

Enterprise 2.0 is not a one-size-fits-all phenomenon. It’s just not. There’s way too much variety out there, and there should be a lot of variety because you can do many different things with this tool suite. So, a big part of my book is devoted to explaining the different things that it can do for you and helping you think through what you’d like it to do.

HM: Let’s get into a little more detail about your book. What can readers expect to find from Enterprise 2.0?

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