[ OVERVIEW OF ENTERPRISE 2.0 ]
Definition of Enterprise 2.0
Enterprise 2.0, at its broadest level, is the use of social software within the enterprise to organize internal communication. Social software refers to web-enabled software programs that allow users to interact, share and meet other users (i.e. MySpace, Facebook...).
Origin of Enterprise 2.0
Enterprise 2.0 derives from Web 2.0: a second generation of web-based communities (i.e. social networking sites, wikis, weblogs...) that aim to facilitate collaboration and sharing between users. The key idea is using the web as conversation but in a more efficient manner. It is believed that "Digital Natives" will drive Web 2.0 into the workplace and begin this new trend.
Companies are beginning to realize the benefits of leveraging Web 2.0 to capture unstructured tacit knowledge as part of the Knowledge Management strategy. Investment banks like Citi, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan are already applying Enterprise 2.0. These banks cited significant research and coordination cost savings among other benefits.
Pros / Cons of Enterprise 2.0
For an accounting firm, Enterprise 2.0 brings many benefits. Typically, most corporate knowledge is shared via email and intranets. Although the use of email is quintessential, it is merely a two-sided and sequential form of communication. Intranets, likewise, contain a wealth of information but are typically run by a small group of people and do not integrate everyone's unique input. On the other hand, tools such as wikis can enable all team members to add to the knowledge pool with their insights, opinions and solutions to common problems and other experiences. Thus, it connects the enterprise to itself through community building.
However, there are inherent risks that can hinder the success of Enterprise 2.0. It is vital to be aware of security issues such as leaching of confidential information and unauthorized access. Additionally, from a technology standpoint, there's concern about what it will cost to make sure that the IT project is properly staffed and equipped with applications such as firewalls. Moreover, although the intent of Enterprise 2.0 is to encourage free information flow, content management is a cause of concern for an accounting firm as it must maintain its image.
[ APPLICATION OF ENTERPRISE 2.0 ]
Applying Enterprise 2.0 to Our Accounting Firm
Knowledge management is the cornerstone of a professional services business. Teams within the company share information to solve problems and generate solutions. With the use of Enterprise 2.0, employees can contribute their ideas, insights, resources, and contacts through tools such as social networking, online communication, expertise location, Q&A services, personalized learning, recruiting and alumni relations.
Enterprise 2.0 may be implemented with the use of an intranet, blogs, and Outlook. For instance, an office blog can aggregate status reports on files, clientele information, ideas, problems, requests for assistance and other relevant news for an engagement. Partners, managers, and other staff can simulate discussions and encourage cross-cohort collaboration. The blogs can also be used to encourage discussion on recent changes in accounting and auditing standards and how these changes impact an audit, for example.
Moreover, company's knowledge from pre-existing work flows would be encapsulated allowing the company to better manage information internally. Through effective problem-solving, innovation, collaboration, and knowledge sharing, Enterprise 2.0 can help produce better solutions for clients and create a competitive advantage for the company.
Enterprise 2.0 can also bring social networking to the forefront with the use of Outlook. Employees can create their own profiles, integrating their interests, expertise, links, posts, tasks and email. Instead of sending an email, for instance, one can send public messages on a comment wall. Instead of sending an email to share a link, it can be bookmarked to be viewed by others on one's wall. Sending and sorting information with the use of additional interfaces can lead to greater interaction between staff.
[ IMPLEMENTATION OF ENTERPRISE 2.0 ]
Several barriers exist in implementing Enterprise 2.0. Many organizational cultures discourage information sharing, either because of confidentiality or because of the silo mindset. It is common to find cultures that reward individual performance, providing incentives to those that contribute ideas or solutions. If the source of information is indistinguishable, employees may not feel the need to contribute, since they may not receive any credit for their work. Further, there is scepticism about the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 as many believe that it will fail to break down communication barriers, such as lack of trust, hierarchy, and lack of incentives, long rooted in a company
Before a full-fledged launch of Enterprise 2.0, it is crucial to create an open culture for the new practices. Social networking requires a large number of active participants and frequent postings. Wikis and blogs can easily fail if people lack interest. From a technology viewpoint, a common platform must be created to support the collaborative nature of Enterprise 2.0. It is also vital to note the importance of managerial support. Essentially, these new applications will decentralize the process of information sharing, reducing management's ability to practice one-sided control. Hence, it is important to have their support before these technologies can succeed.
In implementing Enterprise 2.0, a company must keep in mind many things. Firstly, there are technological barriers. Management must protect the integrity of the information from malicious tempering by disgruntled employees. In addition, training may be needed before employees can effective use the technology. Secondly, there are cultural barriers. The company must find a balance between allowing and controlling the flow of information - this is not easy to do.
[ CLOSING REMARKS ]
The introduction of Enterprise 2.0 is inevitable. As young adults of today are using Web 2.0 in their everyday lives, young adults of tomorrow will apply these tools in their careers. Companies should embrace these tools and empower employees to create the most efficient work environment for themselves because the end result is improved productivity and morale and ultimately, customer satisfaction.
Enterprise 2.0 is redefining how people work and it is really changing the concept of knowledge management and collaboration. Experts are still skeptic, however, in if Enterprise 2.0 is simply a fad and if it really outweighs its costs. From a long-term perspective, implementing Enterprise 2.0 can potentially allow you to remain competitive through a strong knowledge base; allowing employees to effectively tackle novel problems and produce innovative solutions.
[ REFERENCES ]
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Hinchcliffe, Dion. "Enterprise 2.0 as the Example that Proves the Rule." ZDNet. 20 Aug. 2007.
Indus, Khaitan. "Writable Internet." 10 July 2007.
Matuszak, Gary. "Enterprise 2.0: Fad or Future."
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Steinthal, Tom. "Office 2.0 – Is there Social Networking / Enterprise 2.0 for Business?" BSG Alliance. 06 Sept. 2007.
Stenmark, Dick. "How Intranets Differ from the Web: Organisational Culture's Effect on Technology." Götenberg University, Department of Informatics.
Tantri, Dinesh. "Enterprise 2.0 Would Signal the End of the Corporate KIM Function." 23 April 2006.
Wikipedia. "Enterprise Social Software."
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"Instead of Sending Email." 8 September 2007.
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