Enterprise 2.0: part 3 – the gap between employee and corporation

René van den Bos

DigiRedo

Continued from “Enterprise 2.0: part 2 – the world around us has changed, forever

As with a lot of technological innovations, business is often behind in adopting them compared with consumers. This was the case with the telephone, with the adoption of email and today with new and social media. Now, when social computing is becoming mainstream, businesses are considering how to deal with this within their own organisation. The question therefore should not be if a company should adopt social computing (aka Enterprise 2.0), but more when.

As discussed in the previous episode of this series, many employees struggle in managing the enormous amount of information they have to process within their jobs. And the infrastructure that offers that information is not helping them in doing their jobs, on the contrary.

“Many employees struggle in managing the enormous amount of information they have to process within their jobs.”

Some facts:

• Forty-two percent of our economy is based on ‘tacit interactions’, which means exchange of information and knowledge directly between knowledge-workers (source: McKinsey). Most of this information is in these people’s minds, and not recorded in a database. In other words, a lot of this information is not secured.

• Twenty percent of knowledge worker’s valuable time, is spent searching for information required to do their jobs. Indeed, searching, which does not imply that they always find what they need. Which makes sense, because part of that information is not available, as explained above.

• Eighty-five of the current available IT infrastructures cannot be accessed by most knowledge-workers (source: Gartner). That means that if relevant information is available somewhere in the database, they do not have the permission to access it.

The gap between the adoption of new technology, in this case collaborative and social interactive media, between the corporate world and the consumer world has never been so apparent. Cloud computing, mobile, social media, we’re all familiar with it in our private lives. However, within our daily work, this is very often not the case. Cloud computing, for example, is by many organisations perceived a scary, insecure and non-compliant phenomenon.

This is what we call consumerization of technology. New (information) technology first emerges in the consumer market before it enters business organisations. And when it enters, it is in most cases received with scepticism and distrust. IT departments are frequently hesitant in adopting these new technologies, especially if it implies loss of control or, in other words, empowerment of the user.

When I was still working in the pharma industry I was always surprised at the ‘glass-is-half-empty’ approach of IT, when proposing experimenting with new and social media. While I sincerely expected, maybe naively, that this technological revolution should ignite the passion of every IT-worker.

In fact we’ve reached a point of no return. More and more employees, especially the digital natives, expect free access to information, the ability to connect with co-workers and to share and exchange knowledge and experience, all online. As they are used to in their personal lives with their friends and family. As long as the current IT infrastructures (i.e. the intranets and portals) don’t allow or facilitate this, they will take the initiative themselves to create that space.

Already, employees ask their IT departments to give them access to their email and intranet through their personal mobile devices. Just because the company does not offer smartphones to all employees, but the sales force. These employees will get very frustrated if their request is not honoured. While the only reason for asking is helping them to do their job easier and better.

“Cloud computing, for example, is by many organisations perceived a scary, insecure and non-compliant phenomenon.”

Talking about the employee, what is motivating him or her? What really drives him to do his upmost to fulfil his tasks? What makes him get up in the morning? Is it salary? Is it a large bonus if mission is accomplished? Or is it something else?

Since the middle of last century behavioural scientists have investigated human motivation. Before that it was thought there were basically two main motivators: biological motivators (hunger, thirst, sleep, sex) and extrinsic motivators (reward and punishment). An interestingly experiment by Harry Harlow and Edward Deci with monkeys demonstrated there is a third motivator: intrinsic motivation through joy, happiness and passion. This is the motivator for us humans for playing the piano, for photography and restoring old cars.

For developing software, which we are so proud of that we’re willing to give it away for free. We’re willing to spend hours of our free time and willing to spend significant amounts of money in these activities because of the satisfaction it gives us. Interesting enough, ever since the industrial revolution, businesses have only adopted extrinsic motivators, such as salary increases and bonuses and never really explored the possibilities of intrinsic motivators. Yet more than forty years of behavioural research has demonstrated that this is not the way to motivate people.

Although the carrot-and-stick approach worked successfully in the 20th century, it has become obsolete in motivating people in the current changed environment. This brings us back to the conclusion we made in the previous episode. Create an environment where employees can excel and improve their skills, where they can choose the path to fulfil their tasks and goals as long as it also serves a higher purpose. Also known as the three elements of true motivation: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose (source: Daniel Pink – Drive, the surprising truth about what motivates us).

“IT departments are frequently hesitant in adopting these new technologies, especially if it implies loss of control or, in other words, empowerment of the user.”

So now the urge is clear. Business organisations need to change, significantly. In the way they communicate with their employees, how they are motivated, in the way their workforce is empowered and in the way they are organised online. But where to start? That’s what I will discuss in the following episodes. First I want to ask you to take a look at your own organisation. How are you organised online? What functionalities does your intranet offer? Is it interactive and does it allow collaboration between co-workers.

The figure below comes from the congress Intranet 2011, which was held in March in The Netherlands. It represents the development of the intranet from a one-directional information source to a social operating system that contains all kinds of collaborative applications which drive internal and external work. Can you indicate where your company’s intranet is?

Part 4 of this series can be viewed here.

About the author:

René van den Bos is a New Media Architect, specialized in Enterprise 2.0, a video-producer and co-founder of DigiRedo. René is a trained veterinarian with experience in private practice and the pharmaceutical industry. With DigiRedo, René advises organizations how digital media, including new and social media, can improve communications, both internal and external. His philosophy is clear: listening, interaction, authenticity and an open mind for feedback are essential for effective communication.

René is an enthusiastic trainer and passionate speaker. He regularly speaks at conferences and corporate meetings. René is a blogger on his own blog at DigiRedo, but also on Marketingfacts, the leading online marketing blog in The Netherlands. René lives in Utrecht on a houseboat with Marcela and their son Felipe. You can follow him on Twitter.

How is your organisation organised online?