Posts tagged "why-web-20-matters-to-your-business"

Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business – Concluding Thoughts

There are those of you out there that have read through my series on Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business and thought to yourself things like, “Yarmosh, you’re crazy.”, “You’ve completely missed the boat here.”, or “Web 2.0 is just a buzz word. It doesn’t mean anything and is going to have no effect on the enterprise.” I can’t deny the crazy part. But would take issue with the latter statements.

I hope if you learned anything from the thoughts I’ve shared, it’s that regardless of the phrase “Web 2.0″, many of these technologies have already impacted businesses around the world. Even for the organizations they still haven’t touched, blogs, podcasts, wikis, and RSS are on many of their radars.

But you don’t have to my word for it. Besides showing you specific examples of their uses, others are thinking about Web 2.0 and its place in the enterprise.

Nicholas Carr recently asked the question Is Web 2.0 enterprise ready?, pointing to an article by Harvard Business School professor Andrew McAfee. Carr’s take on the piece:

McAfee makes a strong case for why Web 2.0 technologies may succeed where earlier technologies didn’t. The new technologies have other practical advantages as well: they’re cheap, fairly simple to set up, and fairly straightforward to use. Companies can test them without much expense or pain.

Robin Good looked at this issue too:

Personal knowledge management is making strong inroads into enterprise environments where individual users can be motivated to publish quality (commercial) information effectively and with the ease that “bloggers” enjoy.

…personal knowledge management is really about eliminating the IT gibberish that hangs up so many collaborative efforts and getting to the important thing: passionate professionals communicating effectively with peers through flexible, easy-to-use publishing tools.

Of course, as I alluded to earlier, in the business world, especially a larger corporate environment, there will be challenges to change – as always. And that’s fine. I don’t think everyone should have a blog, just to have a blog. It’s use should be strategic.

At the very least, I’d encourage your business to stay informed and educated about these trends. Even if you are not ready to implement them – know their capabilities, know how other businesses are using them, ask the tough questions about what it would look like to use them within and without the corporate firewall. Remember that smart business decisions are absolutely tied to quality information – get informed, get educated. You can’t hide from change forever.

Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business – Knowledge Building

In the case of the Web 2.0 Watermill, there are primarily four areas where technology is beginning to facilitate a vastly improved Internet: knowledge collection, knowledge discovery, knowledge building, and knowledge sharing.

– Ken Yarmosh, Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business

In today’s job market, employees come and ago. But hopefully all of the knowledge they possess doesn’t. If you are smart, then your business probably has some overlap between the various positions and roles that each team member fills.

Having some sort of back-up is particularly important for a small business or a team based larger organization. Subject matter experts while crucial to the success of a project can be equally detrimental if they leave and no one else knows what they knew.

Knowledge building is a step beyond this potential problem. It assumes that the good practice of knowledge collection occurs on a regular basis. It’s importance comes in the fact that with this knowledge (often referred to as “data”) at our fingertips, decisions can be made more easily.

Outside of the enterprise, new ideas of knowledge building are springing-up. They are often referred to as “mash-ups”. The ideas behind a mash-up is to take the data of one source and combine it with a web application to make it richer and more valuable. One often referred to mash-up example is Housing Maps – it combines data from craigslist and Google Maps.

These types of applications could be tremendously useful inside the corporate firewall. Imagine, if the data from the social bookmarking tool I referred to in earlier post could be synthesized and then put on the intranet portal homepage. There are many implementations of this idea that could become the business manager’s “dashboard” of the future.

Using another approach, knowledge building would not have to be that technically advanced. It could be as simple as ensuring that your employees were regularly contributing to their part of a wiki. Others would then build on top of the knowledge others have contributed – making edits or contributing new content.

If you are a business owner or manager, there is no better way to protect yourself from employees jumping ship with lots of propriety knowledge they’ve never shared than to consistently encourage knowledge building. Without doing so is potentilly quite costly.

Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business – Knowledge Sharing

In the case of the Web 2.0 Watermill, there are primarily four areas where technology is beginning to facilitate a vastly improved Internet: knowledge collection, knowledge discovery, knowledge building, and knowledge sharing.

– Ken Yarmosh, Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business

Knowledge sharing is what enables employees to get their jobs done everyday. Without the knowledge and expertise of other co-workers, it is difficult for anything to get accomplished. That holds true regardless of the size of the company.

Thus, one of the biggest bottlenecks for growth relates to the inability to share knowledge. If Susan cannot ask Bob how much it costs to buy three hundred widgets under a tight budget, she will not be able to finish her proposal.

One of the big advancements in this area came through the local area network and file sharing. Now, even when Bob was sick, Susan had the ability to reference his pricing notes.

The web has played an important part in the development of knowledge sharing. More generally, the Internet has ushered in the “Information Age” – much of mankind’s knowledge is now accessible via the click of a mouse.

Blogs, wikis, RSS, and podcasts are all awesome methods to share knowledge within the organization. Knowledge sharing really is the primary focus of each of these technologies.

One quick example is how IBM has used podcasts to share information with their employees. Instead of mandating the time when people had to come or call-in to listen to talks, they made them available by podcast. Besides lowering phone bills, the employees could choose the best time to listen to the discussion – they didn’t have to be inconvenienced.

Other examples of Web 2.0 and knowledge sharing include using dark blogs and wikis. Each facilitate internal discussion, brainstorming, and more.

It is going to take some time but my hope is that Web 2.0 will really transform knowledge sharing behind corporate walls. Let’s face it, e-mail is not the most convenient means for employees to share information. Old or outdated files out on the servers just take up space. All the links and resources an employee has marked as “favorites” in his browser benefits no one except him.

These new tools can help with these issues but there is a prerequisite to benefit from their use – organizational acceptance. There must be a shift from employee competition to employee collaboration. And in order for that to occur, management has to present a convincing case why they should do so.

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Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business – Knowledge Discovery

In the case of the Web 2.0 Watermill, there are primarily four areas where technology is beginning to facilitate a vastly improved Internet: knowledge collection, knowledge discovery, knowledge building, and knowledge sharing.

– Ken Yarmosh, Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business

My series on Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business has been defunct for quite some time (I was hoping to finish it back in January), so I am determined to complete it before writing on a handful of other topics. First, a refresher.

Background
I began by explaining what Web 2.0 is not – it’s not the next version of the web or a singular technical demarcation point. Instead, it is an effort to refocus and refine the web as we know it. As I articulated it,

Web 2.0 is an attempt to build the web around people instead of technology.

From there, I gave a high-level discussion about what I call the Web 2.0 Watermill. The point of this diagram is to provide a simple framework for the types of activities that Web 2.0 technology facilitates:

(note: There has been some good discussion around these sorts of ideas in the past few days, albeit from a more a technical perspective. See Ajit Jaokar’s thoughts and Tim O’Reilly’s response)

Knowledge Discovery
Social bookmarking is a tool that allows people to “tag” and share their bookmarks online. The tag associated with the bookmark is user-defined and helps classify the link. Tagging the link is not unlike placing it in a specific “Favorites” folder of a web browser, except that tags are generally much more specific and of course, the links are available via the Internet (see my social bookmarking profile). The most popular social bookmarking service to-date is Delicious, which was purchased by Yahoo! in December 2005.

Social Bookmarking, Enterprise Use, and Knowledge Discovery
IBM has an enterprise level social bookmarking tool called dogear. Geoff Harder previously reported that IBM employees created 17,000 links in a 2-3 month period.

How does this tie into knowledge discovery? Well, imagine HR using an employee’s social bookmarking profile to help place them into their next assignment. Or consider a manager reading an executive level summary of the types of links his employees are viewing.

Conclusion
Web 2.0 makes it easier to discover new knowledge. Social bookmarking is just one brief example of how that might occur. Information, data, and content (generally referred to as “knowledge”) are purposefully made more accessible and community based.

IBM is definitely a leader in implementing an enterprise based solution for social bookmarking. But knowledge discovery might be as simple as discovering those star employees (“knowledge workers”) via what they are writing on their blogs or the contributions they’ve made on internal wikis.

As Web 2.0 continues to mature, knowledge discovery is going to be one of the more exciting areas to watch. Real time collaboration will be simplified. Managers will have the opportunity to be smarter and thus make better decisions. Of course, technology alone won’t enable that – it will only facilitate it.

Next time – Knowledge Sharing

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Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business – Knowledge Collection

In the case of the Web 2.0 Watermill, there are primarily four areas where technology is beginning to facilitate a vastly improved Internet: knowledge collection, knowledge discovery, knowledge building, and knowledge sharing.

– Ken Yarmosh, Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business

Traditional collaborative and communication efforts in the business environment are soon to be numbered. Web 2.0 facilitates a decentralized yet more effective means for businesses to both interact with customers and employees.

Technologies likes blogs and wikis have already begun to prove their value as knowledge collection tools within and without of the organization. Blogs enable real conversation, thus allowing companies gain valuable feedback from customers, learning what they want, instead of trying to sell them what they don’t need.

Wikis simplify team collaboration and knowledge collection. The headaches associated with tracking file versions or passing hard copies of memos and documents around the office will soon be alleviated. In lieu of emailing the latest version of a particular document, group members can work disjointly via the web. With the click of a button, edits can be applied and tracked. No more worries about working off the wrong copy of a document.

While blogs and wikis represent two different communication paradigms, they both assist in knowledge collection efforts. In my next installment of this series, we will learn how these and other types of Web 2.0 technologies promote knowledge discovery.

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