The Conventional Wisdom on Adoption
Tom Davenport put a stake in the ground on the adoption of Enterprise 2.0. Tom argues that there are a variety of factors that will conspire to slow adoption of Enterprise 2.0 inside of large established companies. He argues that:
"power differentials, lack of trust, missing incentives, unsupportive cultures, and the general busyness of employees today"
will cause Enterprise 2.0 adoption to fizzle until, perhaps, a generation of leaders raised on Web 2.0 comes into power in the C-suite.
Andrew McAfee acknowledges the arguments as valid (and they certainly are), but counters that there are three basic reasons that he is optimistic.
My enthusiasm about Enterprise 2.0, even after acknowledging Tom’s points, stems from three sources. First is the fact that, as discussed above, its component technologies are both novel and very valuable. Second is a feeling that there are actually a lot of managers who want to make concrete this fuzzy notion of empowerment, and to get out of the way enough to let their teams do all the work they’re capable of. These managers want to address the dysfunctions that Tom articulates so well, and they’ll seize on any tools that help them do so. Third is a belief in the power of competition. If Enterprise 2.0 technologies and mindsets do in fact help some companies get ahead by creating and disseminating more knowledge, innovating more, reacting faster, etc. then interest will grow, and so might new approaches.
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
There is an inherent assumption in this back and forth that I believe is fundamentally wrong. Both Andrew and Tom have bought in to the conventional wisdom that Enterprise 2.0 adoption as an internal revolution, fermented by disgruntled masses wanting to throw off the chains of corporate hierarchy.
This "bottoms up" adoption model is easy to understand, well documented and has been discussed ad nauseum. It is not, however, the most likely (or even common) scenario for Enterprise 2.0 adoption.
An invasion of armies can be resisted. But not an idea whose time has come
Everyone involved in the Enterprise 2.0 dialog, Tom and Andrew included, intuitively grasp the power of the technologies. At the end of the day, Andrew's assertion that competition will drive adoption is accurate. However, Enterprise 2.0 adoption will not be driven bottoms up; Enterprise 2.0 adoption will be driven bottoms out.
Bottoms Out Adoption
When I look at where Enterprise 2.0 is getting real, meaningful traction, it isn't scenarios where three guys in IT maintaining system configurations in a wiki turned into a corporate wide knowledge management hub. Instead it is where users and departments are driving collaborative, social networking tools into their partners, customers, suppliers, and network for personal gain and competitive advantage. Look at what BazaarVoice has done meshing user reviews into eCommerce sites.
- 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. (CompUSA & iPerceptions study)
- Marketing Experiments tested product conversion with and without product ratings by customers. Conversion nearly doubled, going from .44% to 1.04% after the same product displayed its five-star rating. (Marketing Experiments Journal®)
- Purchasers who cited reviews as the primary purchase influencer are 18 percent more likely to buy from that retailer the next time they buy similar merchandise
Similarly, look at what LinkedIn has done in the recruiting business. Or Jigsaw has done to lead generation.
Enterprise 2.0 adoption isn't a matter of a few enlightened souls fighting for management approval for a more innovative way to collaborate. Tom is dead on in his list of hurdles this has to overcome. However, those same cultural biases and red tape don't exist in a user's conversation with their customers and partners. Without the friction, the inherent benefits that both Tom and Andrew acknowledge will allow Enterprise 2.0 to spread like wild fire.
Author's note: A Bottom's Out Part II will be posted soon. There is more to this adoption story....