Sigurd Rinde has written an interesting take on the status quo in large enterprises and the need to quietly infiltrate enterprise 2.0 value rather than confront the powers that be, citing Sun Tzu the master military strategist.
I thought of this today as I read this press release from giant auto parts company Valeo.
Google apps premier edition is being rolled out for 30,000 internet-connected Valeo employees "which will increase administrative efficiency and improve collaboration between the 193 Valeo entities in 27 countries".
Google partner Cap Gemini are in the mix somewhere, and I have constructed a fantasy scenario about the value that Google Apps brings to Valeo that goes something like this.
Valeo's bean counters see the cost of Microsoft Office seat licenses and associated file storage and bring in management consultants to research alternatives. Along come Google partner Cap Gemini who do a high level presentation of 'Mesh Collaboration' and the power of connectivity, and Google join in to promote search appliance and their Google Apps suite.
The Valeo bean counters see a lot of big numbers move off the bottom line if they drop Microsoft licenses and there is a promise of improved efficiency through collaboration by moving onto the Google cloud platform complete with docs, video calendaring, IM and so on. Getting past the bland corporate Valeo front page - sustainable development, innovation etc etc - you can easily find online the substance of the company discussed over countless parts counters: the constituent parts of vehicles.
Most consumers are brainwashed by branding when it comes to vehicles but the reality is many core components are interchangeable so long as you know the part numbers. Valeo are in the business of creating OEM and replacement parts for a huge range of vehicles and I'm sure their logistics and parts tracking is immensely complicated.
The Art of Parts Chasing
Getting back to Sigurd Rinde, who is an expert on 'barely repeatable processes' and his friend Sun Tzu:
...getting new stuff that would challenge the status quo into corporations requires such to be designed following these rules:
* Deliver instant and daily value for the end user. Forget about ROI and other mumbo-jumbo meant for the higher ups. Instant value for me as a user rules. (See e-mail example). * Start small anywhere, grow in any direction at any time whenever the users are ready for it. Up front analysis by armies of consultants and any whiff of waterfall will hit the wall. * Puny per user costs, no binding, not even contracts to be signed is ideal. Let the growth in number of users take care of income over time. Heck I could live nicely on the coffee budget of a corporate conference or any Wall Street HQ. * All data must be portable, it's their data, their IP, let them extract it at any time and be free to leave you at any time.
Sigurde argues to achieve the above we need to quietly demonstrate value through grass roots adoption of enterprise 2.0 technologies.
To get past the entrenched IT security...
Mr. Tzu would have said something along the lines of "if you want to avoid detection and move quietly around the defence you must not approach with drums and flags and masses of troops".
I'm really interested to see how Google Apps, which is another generation of enterprise walled garden, is going to deliver value inside Valeo.
The rubber hits the road - or in this case doesn't until the parts are delivered - at the point where Valeo's core competency lives.
I fully understand the promise of collaborative technologies, but there's a huge gulf between conceptual goals and practical uptake. I expect Google Apps will overlap other desktop applications and existing content management, ERP and other enterprise applications.
It's encouraging that presumably Valeo's IT infrastructure are behind this move to the cloud - I'm wondering how much of it is behind their firewall and will make inquiries to find out.
In the end it comes down to a guy waiting at a parts counter for his Citroen or Chevrolet parts - that's where the real value is delivered on time.
Anything that makes the parts store, the mechanic and ultimately Valeo interact more quickly is going to be good for everyone, and that is what collaboration in the enterprise is all about. Especially if you get your car back a day early in time for your morning commute...
Picture courtesy of Armadale Auto Parts