Next week I'll be at the SuperNova 2005 conference in San Francisco. The focus of the conference is on the network as the platform for commerce, social interaction, work and entertainment. As a preview to the event, conference host Kevin Werbach interviewed Philip Evans, senior vice president at Boston Consulting Group; Janice Fraser, CEO of Adaptive Path; and Ross Mayfield, CEO of wiki provider Socialtext about the impact of blogs, wikis and RSS in business. It turns out that adapting those popular Web tools for business is more about cultural adaptation than technology innovation. Here's a sample...
Evans: "Now we are seeing companies choose to work in ways that's much closer to the original vision of the Internet being a medium that is genuinely peer-to-peer, is loosely coupled and sparks different kinds of interactions. The great step forward is not the technology itself -- the blogs, etc. are wonderful, but technologically minor -- but rather one of new perceptions or how people see fresh possibilities and may be willing to invest in them in new ways. We have come full circle."
Mayfield: "One danger, however, is that of assuming that you can just grab some of these tools that have great social dynamics on the public web and believe they will work equally well inside an enterprise. Let's say you develop a great tool that lets you build new applications on your own for generating forms and collecting data. Imagine what would happen to the HR department when you get all those decentralized reports. There's a risk there too."
Fraser: "When it comes time to move these innovative approaches around collaboration, it's going to mean more culturally and operationally. It's going to have to change how information technology departments operate and how legal departments get involved with other different functions. A fellow organizational consultant recently told me about a large Fortune 100 corporation that is trying to figure out how to integrate open source concepts within its internal IT development because it realizes the old methods aren't working. The major roadblock is not changing the behavior of the developers; it is with the compliance and legal departments. How do you convince the general counsel and CFO that it is necessary to change the way you develop products? It's going to take 10 to 15 years to figure this out."