Thursday, February 28, 2008

Technology Populism or Enterprise Edge?

Edge Enterprise: ReadWriteWeb has a piece today on the rise of "consumer-employee" adopted software as services and the strategic integrity of in-house IT technology stack. So you want to find out if anyone knows someone working in Adobe, you check your LinkedIn or Facebook not your internal directory; you want to call long distance to the states and china you use skype, not your inhouse telephony system. Need to find out something in relation to your product, chances are you will consult a wiki not the official FAQ pages. The RWW article says that maybe people would not feel the need to use these technologies if they had better training and understood the features of enterprise softwares a bit better. Instead of a hosted wiki use sharepoint, from Microsoft. MMmmm. Perhaps its time to teach people "responsible adoption", or "how to understand potential implications" such as Data Privacy, Application Security, so they can make better decisions at their own level of the business. If circa 14% of your employees are early adopters perhaps you should be thinking more about how to harness the power of these collective experimenters. VoiceSage has literally Dozens of examples where someone adopted the service to do something relatively simple like stock availability updates and then found a few other things in their immediate environment that could also benefit from pro-active communications. Doing moves you towards knowing. The faster you Get Doing the faster you learn what works and doesn't work. What we have found is that people that understand how to pilot early, and often, inevitably get the better results. The people that can spin a problem on its side, and look at it a different way (i.e. innovators), and then craft a meaningful test of benefits, are a key part of any innovation competence. And that's the problem with lengthy cycles of adoption, learning, deployment and learning. It just takes too long to see what works. One final spin of the wheel on this topic: Its called "environmental fit". Where your external environment exhibits constant change and unpredictability the "edges" of your company need to exhibit some "porousness" and "flexibility". This was traditionally termed "organicity". And that's why inability to adopt, experiment and learn leads to lack of fitness at the edges of your company. I.e. the customer interface.

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