Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This week in links - week 51, 2008

"Can Established Companies Disrupt?" by Scott Anthony:

Earlier this year, Innosight assembled a database of close to 300 disruptive developments over the past 100 years. The database includes published examples and developments we've picked up through our field work. Most of the examples are success stories, some are struggles, and some are works in progress.

The data suggests that it is increasingly common for an established company to launch disruptive innovations. More and more incumbents are learning how to embrace disruptive principles such as:

  • Put the customer, and their important, unsatisfied job-to-be-done at the center of the innovation equation
  • Embrace the power of simplicity, convenience, and affordability
  • Create organizational space for disruptive growth businesses
  • Consider innovation levers beyond features and functions
  • Become world class at testing, iterating and adjusting

Established companies sometimes perceive disruptive innovation to be risky. But success is possible. In fact, the greater risk comes from assuming that business as usual will allow companies to achieve their strategic aims. History suggests that assumption is questionable, and today's turbulent times should put to rest any notion that operational acumen is sufficient for long-term success.

"Predicting the battle over collaboration infrastructure in 2009" by Gil Yehuda, Forrester Research:

I predict that IT-driven internal collaboration initiatives will be squeezed tight: 1. they are usually more expensive than the Tech Populist options. 2. IT is being asked to sacrifice projects, and they would rather cut fat, not bone. Meaning, they’d rather protect their bread-and-butter IT infrastructure from being outsourced. And 3.The business considers projects initiated by IT to be less vital. Remember who pays the bills.

However, for business-driven internal enterprise Web 2.0 collaboration projects, I see growth. Why? Because the business will find their collaboration needs to grow in 2009, while they see IT providing them with fewer services. Collaboration needs grow as a result of layoffs, mergers, and deepening external partnerships (requiring new infrastructure to collaborate outside the firewall with trusted, external partners). And this happens while IT’s services shrink as a result of layoffs, a focus on streamlining operational costs, while not taking on new projects.

"Micro Economies of Attention" by Hutch Carpenter:

The term "attention economy" is one that receives lots of...attention. It is the natural progression of the information economy. The production of information outstrips the growth in users, meaning that attention is a scarce resource. Hence the notion of "economy".

Hewlett Packard's Social Computing Lab released a paper that evaluates the motivations of employees to participate in organizations' social software applications. Revealing the long tail in office conversations studies the interactions, social graph and participation motivations in H-P's WaterCooler social media platform.

Included in that report is the term "micro economies of attention". The context is that since individuals control their own attention and what content they produce, each employee has a supply-demand curve for user generated content. The importance of understanding this dynamic is that adoption by employees is key to the success of Enterprise 2.0. And an important part of the adoption is understanding motivations for participation.

From the H-P research:

"When employees perceived increased visibility of their contributions, they were more likely to actively participate and to report positive experiences"

"Getting started with enterprise social networking" by Lee Bryant:

Control and micromanagement, it turns out, is very expensive, and trusting people is a lot cheaper. In a recession, it will become harder and harder to argue that enterprise IT spending should continue along similar lines to those we have seen since the 1990's. If there are genuinely cheaper and more effective ways of running businesses, then only a fool would ignore them in favour of
continuing with unloved and ineffective five-year-plan IT strategy.

Whereas Knowledge and Information Management have been about capturing and managing content, storing it and then transporting it to where it is needed, enterprise social computing leverages human brain power to derive relevance and usefulness, and instead of managing content object by object, it seeks to help create healthy feeds and flows of information that people can use in their work. Enterprise social computing (aka Enterprise 2.0) places the individual at the centre and seeks to incentivise participation in return for individual benefit, not some theoretical collective sharing benefit.

If we start from the point of view that we are hiring the right people and
they are broadly aligned towards shared goals, then we can use people power to organise information better through social bookmarking and emergent information architecture. We can also leverage peoples' own social networks as more appropriate delivery mechanisms for useful information and also to add value and relevance to information search and retrieval. Business social networks based on weak ties are arguably a vital element of an organisational immune system that can avoid catastrophic mistakes and maintain a healthy level of discussion and debate about the mission of the company.

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