July 28, 2009

Social Networking and the Enterprise - Part 1: Definitions and Mapping

Strap in, this is going too be long and come in four parts.

I mentioned that I'm scheduled to speak at the AIIM Western Canada conference.

My topic is, Social Web: Cutting through the clutter. How to use Social Networks and other tools to enable appropriate information sharing and collaboration within your organization.

So, I've got a little leeway, but was also struggling on how to approach it. I spent some time doing research and have come up with an outline for the talk.

1. Definitions: First, it was important for me to understand what all these terms mean.

Enterprise 2.0: According to AIIM, this can be defined as a system of web-based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities WITHIN the extended enterprise. In other words, Web 2.0 for the enterprise.

Enterprise Content Management: ECM can be referred to as the strategies, methods, and technologies (tools) used to Capture, Manage, Store, Preserve and Deliver content and documents related to organization processes - they permit the management of an organization's unstructured information, wherever it may exist. (emphasis is mine).

For the majority of users within the enterpise, it's the Manage component (which can be further broken down into DM, Collaboration, WCM, RM and Workflow) that they spend the most time with, so emphasis should be placed here.

Enterprise Social Software: A subset of E2.0, it comprises social software utilized in a business context. Applications such as internal blogs, wikis, feeds and internal social bookmarking - all often bolted onto an existing Intranet - live in this space.

Finally, you've got good old-fashioned Social Web (including Social Networking and User-Generated Content - Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, personal blogs, Youtube, Flickr, etc.).

So, the business question is how all of these fit together for enterprise context, particularly for heavily regulated verticals such as Oil & Gas, Big Pharma and Government.

2. Mind Map: A visual representation of the space.

To begin to answer how these fit together, I came up with the visual above. The X - axis represents the number of users - few vs. many. The Y - axis talks about the amount of control an organization can exert over information - the higher and to the up and right you go, the more difficult it is to 'control the collaboration'. As a reaction, some organizations just shut everything down. I'll get to this when we talk about Jeremiah Owyang's thoughts on "How to Organize Your Company For Social Computing".

What's also interesting is how a company's Intranet and email applications fit into the mix. Email is often overlooked as a 'social network' but that's exactly what it is and it's still the most popular platform.

With these definitions and framework in place, I'll next examine the emerging trends and key business drivers behind enterprise Social Network adoption (or lack thereof). Then, I'll look at a model that helps to determine in which direction an organization should move. Finally, I'll take a stab at some key conclusions and direction.

UPDATE: I asked my friend and colleague Greg Clark from C3 Associates, who is an ECM and E2.0 ninja, to vet this model for me. I got a passing grade, but he raised an interesting and valid point. To quote:

"One thing that jumped out at me is your comment about the importance/focus of the “Manage” portion of ECM. To me this is where a lot of implementations fall down; infrastructure geeks in black Nine Inch Nails t-shirts sitting in windowless server rooms spin up an ECM app and call it a strategy. Don’t need to tell you this is bad. The “Deliver” portion is where things get interesting from an E2.0 perspective. Marrying up these two (with a side benefit of some subversive records management to handle the end of the information lifecycle) is where it’s at."

So, I forgot the 'Deliver' aspect which is used to present information from the 'Manage', 'Store', and 'Preserve' components.

The 'Why, If, and, How questions are next.

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