Back Door Adoption of Web 2.0 in the Enterprise

Steve Rubel posted an interesting commentary, clearly directed at corporate IT management. He points out part of the reason why adpotion of Web 2.0 practices in the enterprise is slow to happen:

Unfortunately for corporate IT, however, they will find that they can’t move as fast as Web 2.0 does. Talent isn’t the issue here. IT inertia, long-term vendor agreements, the law and Sarbanes Oxley are all weights that can shackle corporations.

This is definitely true, but I am not so sure that back door adoption will happen as inevitability as he suggests.

 …a more free spirited workforce is using what’s freely available to them because it fills a void. With this, information is flowing into data caverns that only the employee – and really no one else – controls.

The reason being the rules and policies that most enterprises have in place. If IT (and corporate) management are serious about controlling where information resides, they have the tools in hand to make it happen, namely disciplinary policies and reward & recognition. I am not saying that I like it or think that is the way it should be, but that is the way it is in many orgainzations. Yes, technically, I can access all of these great tools, but if doing so is a career limiting move, I am going to think twice about doing so.

 I think the inevitable outcome is that the best and brightest that are now coming into the job market will choose to steer clear of organizations that value control over choice. Change will occur over time, not because the “controlling” enterprises will change their ways, but because they will become anachronistic and fade away and new organizations will take their place.

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Personal Organization

Over the last week I have read two posts that have led me to write this. One was Stowe Boyd’s post Remember the Milk, Redux, and the other was Steve Rubel’s post Turn Gmail into a Social Network Hub.

Both of these deal with using web 2.0 tools to make our individual lives better (easier? more productive?). Reading these got me to thinking about tools and other approaches. I have an idea for another variation, that I have played with some, but haven’t perfected yet. Thanks to Steve and Stowe, I think I now see some improvements I can make in my process to make it viable.

Put it in a Wiki

First I will label my bias, I am partial to SocialText, but what I am describing here will probably work in any wiki.

My first attempt at using a wiki for organization was to build a top page index for each topic/project I was dealing with. It was clumsy and quickly became ineffective.

My approach this time is to create a unique page for each “transaction” I have (a phone call, a thought I want to capture, meeting notes, etc.) With the content documented, I can quickly index it with labels. For:

  • a “To Do” that is embedded in the note, I add a “todo” tag
  • a reference to a person I was talking to, I add their name as a tag
  • a project reference, I add the project name as a tag
  • etc.

Now the cool feature in SocialText that I use here is the dynamic ability to create “weblogs” based on tags. If I want to pull out all of my todo’s I just pull up the “ToDo Weblog” and everything is listed in traditional reverse chronological order.

 I have lots more to investigate here, but I see real promise in using wikis as a roll-your-own personal organization engine.