Interesting article by John Soat at internet evolution called "The Right Place for Social Networking" in which he unpacks another of the many shifts that are taking place as smart enterprises incorporate collaborative technologies into essential business process.
The meat of the article is in this description:
Using a browser-based, software-as-a-service project management tool, logistics clerks, engineers, and project managers are sharing documents, cost outlines, and project schedules across continents, giving CFO Peter Hardie in North America what he calls a “real-time review” of the project in a fairly remote area of Africa.
Soat talks up how product development vendors Dassault Systemes, PTC, Siemens, and others "are plowing Web 2.0 capabilities into their product life-cycle management platforms, adding collaboration and complexity," while also noting that "IT teams are wrestling with how these tools function in concert with collaboration technology, such as document management, project management, and product development systems. Are they adjuncts, integral parts, or even replacements for tried-and-true software?"
I'd argue that the answer to that question lies in the business purpose behind the software itself. From studying the uses of enterprise 2.0 tools in quite a few companies over the years, my experience also tells me that the IT department is usually only wrestling with how the 2.0 toolset might function for other divisions of the corporation -- usually IT is first in line for proofs of concept/pilots/betas etc. (Solutions gathering and bug fixing are, after all, two of the trumpets in the wiki business case brass band.)
However, when the projects involved are new product launches directly responsible for meeting top line revenue growth expectations, it's perhaps less likely that project managers will loosen the old Gantt grip and become the sort of collaborative facilitators that might allow for truly harnessing a team's cognitive surplus while still getting the project done on time and on budget.
Take Tata's Tom Davies, who as Soat reports,
"...is wary of. . . wikis and blogs that promise the functionality of knowledge management software but deliver less. “Unless you have that taxonomy for what data goes in and what it’s used for, you end up with a lot of information for no reason,” he says. The use of wikis and blogs “has to be clearly defined,” he contends. “I haven’t yet seen a company do that.”
So what do Davies and his team use? For resource material, they tap documentation libraries on an intranet. For collaboration, he says, “there’s an awful lot of email.”
Grudgingly, Davies admits he’ll end up implementing some kind of collaboration and knowledge management system that will incorporate wiki and blogging capabilities, probably within the year.
Interesting how he describes his email inbox as "an awful lot." Even the skeptics have 2.0 in their budget plan. Do you?