Expert Profile – View

What is your name?

James Dellow

Who are you and what are you doing?

I'm a consultant working in the field of social computing. I work for Headshift, a specialist social media and enterprise social computing consulting company. Headshift was founded in the UK, but has been operating in Australasia since 2008.

How did you get to the E2.0 topic?

Many people mistake me for a "techie", but I have never worked in an IT department. During the early part of my career I found myself in the position where I was the person who was the go-between for business and IT. I became interested in Enterprise 2.0 through my experiences in knowledge management (formed at Ernst & Young), and then later as a consultant working with a range large organisations (particularly with CSC) - as a result I have an appreciation for both the organisational and technology challenges that Enterprise 2.0 aims to change.

I also completed a Master of Business & Technology at the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia) in 2005 - so my feet are firmly planted in the grey area between social and computing.

What is your understanding of the core concept of the Enterprise 2.0 idea?

I approach Enterprise 2.0 with a management perspective - heavily influenced by systems thinking - that takes into account the relationship between the social and technology aspects of applying Web 2.0 inside an organisation. This means results will vary between organisations because of the complexity of those relationships and the environment where they exist.

In practice this means I don't believe simply installing a blog or a wiki makes you "Enterprise 2.0". But equally, without the technology its doesn't work (at least at the scale we need - Andrew McAfee captured this well in his SLATES model). In my own thinking I've tried to distinguish between Enterprise 2.0 and other applications of Web 2.0 inspired information management technologies under the theme of Intranet 2.0.

Also, despite my background in knowledge management, I don't treat Enterprise 2.0 as the next iteration of knowledge management although its is very complementary.

What are the main potentials of the Enterprise 2.0 idea?

I'll answer this in a round about way. When we look at the evolution of our modern industrial society (embodied in the classic organisational structure), information and communication technologies (ICT) have been at work in the background supporting and shaping this evolution. Critically they have allowed organisations to scale, while also extending their organisational span of control so they can achieve their objectives in at least a semi-cohesive way.

However, with this growth and globalisation the actual environment for organisations has become more complex. As a result the command and control approach that ICT supported in the past is failing to keep up.

To operate effectively, we need systems that allow people to work in a way where social controls direct action and allow problem solving, not fixed hierarchical processes that are inflexible and often out of date. The experience of Web 2.0 on the Internet is already demonstrating that there is a better way for organisations to learn from.

This doesn't mean the future won't be transactional either - Amazon and eBay are all examples at one end of the Web 2.0 spectrum that mix efficient high volume transactions with social controls.

But as we move towards Enterprise 2.0 we need to remember that its not just about changing technology, at the same time society and the shape of organisations will also be changing. As a result, the workplace might also become a little more fun and interesting because of Enterprise 2.0.

What are the main challenges, threads and issues of the Enterprise 2.0 idea?

To quote Clay Shirky: "Every story in [Here Comes Everybody] relies on a successful fusion of a plausible promise, an effective tool, and an acceptable bargain with the users"

This gets back to the point that there are set of complex interactions at work that determine how successful any organisation can be with adopting Enterprise 2.0 as a way of organising. However, many people choose to only focus one aspect. This is a recipe for failure.

On the organisational side, Enterprise 2.0 is a clear challenge to existing organisational power structures. Information is power only if information access and flow can be controlled - but Enterprise 2.0 changes that rule and some people will be threatened by it.

On the technology side many of the strengths of the Web 2.0 model are hidden from the average Internet user - however, when we move Web 2.0 into organisations much of that hidden Web 2.0 infrastructure (both technology and people) is missing. Unfortunately, traditional enterprise IT management often works at a tangent to the Web 2.0 approach, so there is some \\\\\\\"pain\\\\\\\' associated with this change.

Please give us three tags that describe your person and work best?

business-and-technology, systems thinking, collaborative

Please give us three links to articles/contributions that describe your views best?

You'll also find more articles here, but three selected are

Please give us three names of colleagues that you would refer to as brother-in-spirit?