Sunday, 14 November 2010

Enterprise 2.0: a simple SWOT analysis

My last blog post, Enterprise 2.0: The Prodigal Parent, caused quite a stir. Countless reactions in the form of tweets, comments and blog posts, followed. Critics, hand wavers, and everyone in between, of both camps and others, had an opinion and voiced them, one more successful than the other - IMO strongly depending on their ability to exclude themselves from the discussion at hand

I strongly dislike debates - they serve the ego. It strikes me that every single person who has blogged on this issue, has taken the time to react to comments posted - except one. I commented on Andrew's post, yet I'm still waiting for his response (but certainly not holding my breath)

I didn't start it all to be deemed right. I didn't start it either to divide. I started it all, in order to unite

Back in July I managed to set up an event where Vinnie Mirchandani spoke to a select group of Capgemini (my former employer) people. Vinnie's main message: it's an age of AND, not OR - abundantly proving so by giving tailor-made examples of companies combining all sorts of tech and non-tech innovations in order to ameliorate a company's general (dis)position

It never is about black or white, it always is about the sheer endless surface of greyscale in between: where do we take position? Let me enlighten you: you can't take a single position at all - everything changes, grows, is dynamic. Are you taking the same position towards anything compared to e.g. 1 year ago? You mustn't have come to new insights then

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats - that's what SWOT stands for. As is the case with humans, strength and weakness are strongly linked, as are opportunity and threat
Enterprise strength: size. What would you rather have to ride in battle, an ant or an elephant?
Enterprise weakness: size. What would you rather have to move in any direction, an ant or an elephant?
Enterprise opportunity: Social in its broadest sense. Customers, employees, a growing portion of those is becoming increasingly connected, sharing information you don't have
Enterprise threat: Social in its broadest sense. Customers, employees, a growing portion of those is becoming increasingly connected, sharing information you thought you had sole access to

This is an extremely simple SWOT; I could write a book about H2 do a proper SWOT, and even divide that up per industry - I simply don't have the time

The issue at hand is a simple one, really. The world is changing (I know, it always has, and never will stop doing so, but if you've spent years in your Ivory Tower, this can be News).
Enterprises all over the world see declining revenues and profits, even if they've moved to India and the like in time.

What is your reaction, dear enterprise? Fight, or Flight? It all depends of course, although your shareholders probably would like to see you fight, rather than flight

Information is key. Ask James Bond

4 reacties:

Peter Evans-Greenwood said...

Flight or flight might be the wrong dichotomy. I'd go for adapt or disappear. And adapt probably means accepting lower margins.

ThoughtElf said...

The edgy dichotomy for enterprise lies between risk taking and risk aversion.

Until the current approach is turned upside down and guided from the outset by the C-Suite and Legal, rather than being driven by Marketing, we'll see many stunning failures by customers & vendors, both. Enterprise execs need an ounce of perception to offset the pounds of obscure. For all of the tens of thousands of social 'expert' pieces of content out there, the one thing you can't find is a solid Dias aster Recovery Plan for social storms of the sort that make stocks plummet and the SEC call in the auditors. The threat is the pivotal starting point when it comes to Enterprise & social.

Unless Enterprise/Social/Marketing brains are working backwards from that Looming Threat in the lower right corner, and fully cognizant of the risks, Flight is the best option. Adapting too quickly will not ensure that Enterprise excels.

A fighting stance might seem to be desirable, but that over-eager willingness to conform to the latest trend carries with it the risk of liability that can, and will, make some vendors disappear in a blaze of public glory. We've spent much time through the years developing systems of roles, rights and security within the enterprise to control flow of information inside the firewall, but I'm astonished by how rarely this is spoken or written of in regards to Enterprise going social, be it vendor or customer. Marketing, PR, and Customer Service, (nor Enterprise Customers,) should not be leading this charge towards defining how Social fits into Enterprise 2.0.

Stakeholders, Board Advisors, Gov, Legal, and Investors should be the Gatekeepers and Visionaries.

Open the flood gates at your own risk.

Ed Nadrotowicz said...

Taking a position, especially when it includes introducing something new, involves risk. It has been shown via research on decision making that people are risk averse, even in the face of balancing potential for gains. However, once potential for loss enters the equation, research shows decisions will be based on minimizing the potential for loss at the expense taking a chance to maximize gain.

Mapped into this context, most enterprises enter the fray when the potential for loss begins to be evident. Most often, that is first surfaced at the interface with the customer. There is risk of customer loss if action isn't taken, in this case use of social media. I believe this is why social tools start in the PR, Customer Communications, and Marketing departments first in the form of FB fan pages, YouTube channels, Twitter presence, blogs, etc.

It's more difficult to detect a potential for loss inside the enterprise. How can you make tangible the potential for loss? It is a question that continues to challenge those that are looking to bring social tools inside the enterprise. Without being able to clearly understand the potential loss, the decision makers revert to the risk aversion behavior previously described. Sooner or later, the word gets out from early adopters about the power of the tools and the potential for loss becomes less abstract. That's when opportunity knocks for the social tool champion.

Martijn Linssen said...

Thank you Peter, ThoughtElf, Ed

Adapt or disappear is the law of evolution, and some might indeed have to adapt soon

The edifice ThoughtElf describes is a costly one, and that which I named the workaround installed on an enterprise's way to expansion. It is a giant structure sometimes amounting to more than half of an enterprise's population: I'd say that makes the cure worse than the disease

Social could save some big money here, but it always hurts to cut a slice of your own meat - and I think that's why this topic isn't on the boardroom agenda

I absolutely agree with Ed, once a small minority proves the point, that others will follow; but that's just an example of having a solid business cases

SMB leads the Social movement and the enterprises are just standing by. Most of them trying to engage in social media make painful mistakes: last week I complained about Telfort, my ISP, and received a few private and even some public tweets from a clearly tech savvy, frustrated employee, making a complete idiot out of himself and his company:
They're in Dutch but it's a bad sign when you post the same message three times in a row, slightly altering it. The text says: "Talk about stubborn (...). Whatever you want though!"

Examples like these make lasting impressions, and perfectly illustrate that you can't just give someone a tool in his hands. Like a gun, tools can be lethal
Enterprises should socialise from the inside first, before doing so towards the outside

I see a strong case in cost-saving on management, employee retention and information sharing. Money making? Not so strong a case yet, although it's clear that social tools provide a great way for increased customer satisfaction - but only if your business can sustain the required Customer Service

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