How to accelerate the benefits of Enterprise 2.0

This is a follow-up post to my previous blog post How come Enterprise 2.0 is not everywhere yet?”

I have to apologize to Peter for such a long delay between the two posts. Firstly, I was very busy the last few months. Secondly, I was wishing for more like-minded people to participate in the discussion. Lastly, I was a bit hesitant to reveal our unique business idea.

In my previous post, I mentioned the 3 obstacles to Enterprise 2.0’s adoption:

  1. the probability of success (ability to replicate the success enjoyed by other companies)
  2. the courage to invest (due to inability to guarantee the ROI)
  3. the lack of in-house expertise

With respect to the 1st obstacle, to be very honest, I don’t have a 100% foolproof solution. This is because the tool is only 1 part of the solution. It has to depend on the suitability of the work environment and culture to attain success. However, it is possible to maximize the success rate with experience and best practices. I have encountered a case where a manager requested his team to use the wiki upon learning its benefits. But his team continued to use emails and word documents for their work and did extra work to copy the information again onto the wiki. This isn’t the best way to improve the productivity. Another team also wanted to capture their knowledge, but most of the time, they are away from their computer. As a result, the adoption was not very successful.

It takes a confluence of factors for the team to extract value from the implementation of the tools. You can only know whether it can benefit your organization only by trying it.  One good idea on how to reduce the barriers for trying is the SaaS concept that is popularized by Salesforce.com. Under the SaaS model, people do not need to spend hundred of thousands to buy the system. They only need to pay for a monthly usage fee.  If the system cannot satisfy their requirements or there is another better system around, they can just stop using without incurring any heavy penalty. After the company has confirmed that the system is valuable to them, it will be much easier to justify for wider adoption.

However,  most companies providing SaaS services are storing their data within their data centre through the Internet. This worries a lot of companies that regard their data to be confidential and strategic. In order to encourage them to try, it would be better to set up the applications and databases within their network.

The most important element of success is the people. People who have the knowledge and the experience on using the system. This is especially more important for Web 2.0 applications that can serve multiple purposes and can be enhanced with new plug-ins and mash-ups. They will be very useful as they are able to synthesize the user requirements together with the features of the application to come up with functional and usable solutions quickly. We always heard the stories about a large percentage of features in Microsoft Word is unused.  This is because a lot of people are unaware of the features. Therefore it is important to have someone around who can coach them on the features and helping them with their queries and suggestions. This will encourage them to use the system to improve the way they work. It makes a lot of difference having someone who have the passion and skills to do the job.

To address these issues, we are providing unique and personalized services to

  • set up and maintain the applications at our clients’ premises
  • provide 2 pricing models (one-time cost & monthly fees based on usage subjected to a cap) depending on our clients’ preferences
  • having on-site visits to coach and guide the users on the best way to use the tools, and seek feedback to improve the system continuously

I believe as a service provider, we will be able to spread the benefits to more people and organizations. Do let me know if you got any good ideas. At the same time, I am looking around for other service providers that have the same idea as us.

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