Enterprise 2.0 - Part 2 - Cisco and IBM taking their own medicine

In part 1 of this enterprise 2.0 explanation I gave an overview of the topic and talked through some of the very few concrete examples and case studies that are out there. Tomorrow I'll post part 3 to expand the definition of the topic and pick up on some of the predictions for 2009. This post looks at how enterprise 2.0 tools can help and facilitate a change in management approach inside organizations, and some more real examples. Take a look at how some technology companies are taking their own medicine. Just as I was writing part 1 last week, a post by my friend Jon Husband tipped me off to a video of John Chambers, CEO of Cisco at MIT Sloane School of Management we had both missed back last October. I've been interested in John and Cisco since reading Geoffrey Moore's explanation of how one of my favourite books, Dealing With Darwin, came about. A request by Chambers to do a kind of company biography morphed in to an excellent management book on how companies innovate through every phase of their evolution, with Cisco as a recurrent case study. John's lecture, and the subsequent Q&A lasts for 67 minutes, but it's well worth spending the time.

You might expect John to mention Cisco telepresence a few times and the value of visual connections to help you "see the pupils dilate", but he does present the argument for enterprise 2.0 tools in a company like his to:

  • Drive productivity

  • Help you get flexibility, speed and scale

  • Increase revenue per employee

  • Increase profit per employee

  • Free up employees to help you move in other markets.

There is a good sequence from around 28 minutes to 35 where he talks about their use of discussion forums, Cisco-vision (which is their internal "YouTube"), the network effect and Metcalfe's law increasing the usefulness of their internal networks, which he says are growing at over 400% a year. He explains how this has helped him and his senior team pursue 26 top priority projects this year, compared to the 2 he could manage last year. Another important comment is when he talks about combining these new web technologies with a discipline and a process as opposed to doing things in an unstructured way - that's a key message in our implementation methodology too. He also gives an insight in to the way management style needs to change with hierarchical organization structures being turned on their heads, and a move to a flatter, more network-centric approach with communities of interest. He goes on to say:

"A lot of the management schools around the world still develop managers the way I was developed, and that's command and control, and that's not the future."

He explained how they had used blog tools for idea management, with a competition for employees and customers for new product ideas, which resulted in 1200 entries from 104 countries. Later on he has some great words in response to some of the questions. He talks about how mobile is important, and how all devices will need to play. However the one thing that he believes has to change is ease of use. When you talk to a mobile service provider about adoption of a new function he says:

"One word one click 90% of their customers will pick it up. 2 words 2 clicks and 50% will pick it up. 5 words or 5 clicks and only 10% will pick it up - people don't use"

"Making it easy to use is the key challenge"

He also explained how difficult it was for him to change approach himself. He had to have patience and move outside his comfort zone. He uses video blogging for all his internal messaging, and staff use a Facebook style profile to describe the capability of every employee in the company. He explains that wikis have been around in Cisco "forever", with their use up 7 fold in the last 7 quarters. Blogging doubled in 7 months, and he pointed out:
"None of this has been pushed top down. People are doing this entirely voluntary. People do this purely because they get the leverage out of it."

He also talked a little about his background and business philosophy. He spends 50-60% of his time with customers, listening to customers, and believes that's how you stay on top. He learned that lesson from his time at IBM and Wang. He talked about IBM's problems when they forgot about listening to their customers, and how Wang got to the top and then lost their way and crashed and burned. He says that at Cisco, everything they're doing is around social networking. He participates in 30 different communities of interest , and believes that social networking concepts are how business will be done.

Another company to watch taking their own medicine is theone John (and I) used to work for -IBM. Lotusphere is happening in Florida as we speak, and a few days ago Luis Saurez blogged about "Web 2.0 Goes to Work for Business". I'm looking forward to more from Luis during 2009, but he highlights the following links to find out what IBM are doing:

So I recommend you invest 67 minutes to listen to John Chambers, and watch for good stories coming out of Lotusphere this week. In Part 3 I hope to be able to link to a piece by one of my friends with some hard evidence on the unofficial adoption of social media inside companies bigger than 1000 employees. The numbers may surprise you, and give an indication of the level of real grass roots adoption that is happening already.

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