A New Approach To Social Computing: Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0

Those who follow my work know that I’ve been attempting to identifying the success factors for enterprise social computing as well as trying to clearly understand the potential issues.  What we’ve learned as a whole over the last year is that social computing, whether that is blogs, wikis, social networks, end-user mashups, social messaging, crowdsourcing, etc, is still a new discipline for which most organizations are just now learning the basics.

That there are many business benefits to social software is also increasingly evident if you keep up with the case studies, but there are also some very real challenges to getting there as well.  These challenges are mostly not technical in nature and while good social tools are a prerequisite, real success lies in creating genuine change in the way that workers, partners, and even customers engage with each other in a more open, collaborative, discoverable way.  We’ve found that, despite about half of all companies having the tools, how to get value out of them is still not generally well understood.  It might even be said that there is tool myopia, and that most organizations don’t realize most of the process of moving to social computing is cultural.  Even the strategies to avoid potential risks and concerns with social media is currently ad hoc at best and missing almost completely at worst.  It’s time for some positive change.  And as an industry, I think we now have enough knowledge to now do considerably better with Enterprise 2.0.

Introducing Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0

Today marks the culmination of several years of personal effort combined with some important collaboration over the last several months with two business partners that I value very highly.  This morning I’m very pleased to report that we’ve announced something that we’re calling Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0, a service designed by experts in both enterprise IT and social computing.  It is aimed specifically for use by businesses that want the benefits of social media via access to a mature approach that truly addresses the needs and concerns of enterprise customers today.

Our partners are Asuret, a leader in strategic project intelligence, headed up by my good friend Michael Krigsman, and Socialtext, one of the most recognized names in Enterprise 2.0 and who provides the default toolset for Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0.  Although we always use the best tool for the job, we benefit greatly from having a standard toolset that is mature, has a broad range of functionality, best-of-breed capabilities, and with which we have a strategic relationship to drive unique customer requirements. You can read Ross Mayfield’s announcement post here. For reasons that I will explain below, I truly believe this partnership will genuinely change what’s possible and will fundamentally improve the outcomes of social computing efforts in enterprises around the world.

As I’ve discussed many times in the past, there’s a lot more to effective enterprise social media than bringing a Facebook, Twitter, or Wikipedia clone into an organization and setting it loose, although that’s a common pattern that often generates issues down the road.  Getting engagement and creating vibrant communities that drive business objectives forward in meaningful ways while minimizing exposure to unwanted outcomes is what real, effective social business is about.

How To Improve Enterprise Social Computing

You can find more about Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0 here or in the the Slideshare presentation below, but the key ideas are:

  1. Consumer social media must have enterprise context added to it to fully function in the business world.  A straight 100% transplant of a consumer approach won’t work for most organizations.  Neither will a rigid or heavyweight enterprise reinvention succeed either.  There must be an effective combination of the two that reflects modern business requirements yet retains the full spirit and potency of consumer social media.  We have brought together recognized experts with deep experience in both worlds to create a framework for delivering capable enterprise-class social computing.
  2. Most organizations are just climbing the social computing competency ladder and need access to expertise.  Social computing is a new discipline that requires skills in building and managing communities and integrating their activities across lines of business.  Everything from community management to dealing with security and control worries represents a new domain for many companies. We are now at a point where there is a lot the Enterprise 2.0 industry has learned and we can proactively capitalize on this knowledge for creating better outcomes.
  3. Understanding the actual state of a social computing effort must be easier.  Online communities, either internal or external, have a life of their own and when Enterprise 2.0 represents persistent, open collaboration, that means the right things must be in place to handle both positive and negative outcomes.  While negative outcomes are in a very distinct minority, they must be actively managed as much as the more desirable result.  This has been true of traditional IT projects as well, not because they spread information so quickly, but because it’s very hard to understand what’s really going on.  We have put together a unique approach that can address both sides of the coin and proactively guide projects based on a clear and updated collective intelligence based model of what is actually taking place in a social computing effort.  This gives intellectual control like never before to those who are running their Enterprise 2.0 initiatives and lets key issues like risk, trust, and control be dealt with transparently, something that has been relatively neglected up until this point.
  4. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to Enterprise 2.0.  Every organization is unique in some aspects of their needs.  Some organizations need very good security while others are more concerned about cost-effective community management. Others need to bring workers up to speed quickly on social media literacy or need to create effective policy and governance around enterprise computing to ensure regulatory and compliance needs are met.  By using lean and agile approaches, we’ve cut the fat out of social computing adoption and avoided a fixed template that would drive up costs and complexity.  In total, we’ve integrated 70 best practices and approaches to social computing that are tailored to an organization’s real needs.
  5. Social computing is a journey, not a deliverable, and any approach must reflect this.  Though some aspects of a social computing effort are project-like and have a discrete delivery date, the real work takes place weeks, months, and even years later.  Managing enterprise communities and keeping them vibrant is still more of an art form than a science, although that is also improving rapidly.  And it’s where much of the ROI comes in as well as it drives participation, a growing knowledge ecosystem, and deep, meaningful integration with the business. Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0 reflects this at its core and manages to the fact that a social computing effort often isn’t “completed” until some hard-to-define moment in the future.  We now believe that moment won’t be so hard to define or to reach.

Overview of Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0 Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0 Overview

View more documents from Dion Hinchcliffe.

I rarely use this blog to comment on my business work but I do truly believe that this is an important advance for Enterprise 2.0. I’m pleased to say that our early previews to analysts and customers has been favorable so far, though certain we are not positioning this as a silver bullet, just the highest quality approach that we could put together with our best effort.  I would also like to solicit input and questions in comments from all of you below for additional feedback and discussion.  After all, it’s about the community in the end.  I’ll be adding links and news coverage of this story below as it emerges.

Resources | Press Coverage | Analysis:

Initial Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0 Site

Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0 Presentation

Ross Mayfield’s Post on PE2.0

Sameer Patel’s Analysis of Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0

Paul Greenberg’s  Finally! A Three-Cornered Consulting Service for Enterprise 2.0

destinationCRM: Time To Get Pragmatic About Enterprise 2.0

IDC Analyst Mike Fauscette on Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0

Please join Michael Krigsman and myself for an in-depth Webcast on Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0 on November 11th at 1pm EDT.

Do you think enterprise social computing needs well-defined methods and approaches? Why or why not?

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