Monday, August 18, 2008

What's wrong with today's Enteprise 2.0 offerings

Cross posting from my blog post on the EMC Knowledge Worker blog.

In the report, "Enterprise Content Management's Next Step Forward", Forrester makes the point that Enterprise Content Management (ECM) does not work for most enterprises. Current ECM implementations provide poor support for how most business people, especially information workers, work; and IT organizations are in perpetual catch-up to the ever changing behaviors of their knowledge worker. Forrester argues that ECM must adapt to move to more organic content management approaches that help abstract ECM’s complexities from end users, adapt to the way people work, and provide contextual views of, and access to content.

Andrew McAffee coined coined the acronym "SLATES" (as in Blank SLATES) to described such organic content management approach in his article, "Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration", which appeared in the Spring 2006 MIT Sloan Management Review. SLATES stands for:
  • Search: for any information platform to be valuable, its users must be able to find what they are looking for. Improved information discovery drives reuse and better productivity
  • Links: understanding how content is interconnected is an excellent guide for what's important. The "best" pages are the ones that are most frequently linked to
  • Authoring: when authoring tools are deployed and used within a company, the intranet platform shifts from being the creation of a few to being the constantly updated, interlinked work of many
  • Tags: tags reflect the information structures and relationships that people actually use, instead of the ones planned for them in advance and make patterns and processes in knowledge work more visible
  • Extensions: automate work through the use of categorization and pattern matching
  • Signals: technology must be able to signal users when new content of interest appears
Since then, authors such as Dion Hinchcliffe have built upon the SLATES framework to add characteristics such as:
  • Social, emergent and freedom
  • Network-oriented to describe that the content of Enterprise 2.0 applications must be fully Web-oriented, addressable and reusable
While SLATES is a useful acronym to describe important concepts, it falls short - even with the additions provided by Hinchcliffe - of addressing the true need of the enterprise:
  • Since December 2006, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which set litigation guidelines in the US, now require electronically stored information be included in discovery requests. This means that organizations have a legal obligation to produce all electronic documents that pertain to a given lawsuit. As a result, organizations must have in place a robust information management strategy that decreases the cost of information discovery.
  • Information in highly collaborative gets stale quickly, particularly in project-driven environments. This is a typical knowledge management problem. Without processes in place to synthesize best practices and lessons learned, the trail of information is marginally useful. Information lifecycle management becomes critical to managing the growth of digital information and improve the quality of the information available for reuse. To meet the needs of the enterprise, enterprise 2.0 solutions must blend delegated administrative controls (such as provisioning, de-provisioning, retention policies, etc) with features that empower end-users
  • Sensitive information must remain protected no matter how it is accessed or exchanged. For instance, in highly sensitive systems, users may not be able to print or export content.
ECM can fill such gaps. ECM is entering a new and exciting phase where a compliant information infrastructure supporting new and innovative social networking and content creation paradigm will put ECM in business context and drive the adoption of such infrastructure. This is the vision for CenterStage.