Stowe Boyd and I awarded the 'Open Enterprise 2009' award to Booz Allan Hamilton for their 'Hello' environment at the Boston Enterprise 2.0 Conference a year ago, and I caught up with Megan Murray of the BAH team one year on to see how their environment was progressing at this year's Boston event.
While it's relatively easy to install enabling collaboration technology, it's a much harder proposition to get and keep users - and potential users - focused on the value propositions of why and how they should participate.
Megan discusses in the above video sixty percent penetration into the Booz Allen workforce, up from forty nine percent a year ago, and strong interest from the middle ranks sector, typically the prospective users who feel most threatened by information sharing.
She feels there was a new maturity at this year's Enterprise 2.0 Conference event and found other practitioners engaged with working closely on integration with existing systems inside large enterprises.
From last year's discussion:
Silo busting is successful, albeit with some ‘kicking and screaming’. Requests for very narrowly focused communities for small parochial teams are met with an effort to open up topics to a much broader community, in order to more widely share information.
Connectivity between business units has greatly increased cross domain and cross solution through community management, as users realize other parts of the organization are focused on similar needs to their own.
Stimulating conversation across community really helps build adoption patterns, while email traffic and usage is gradually finding a viable alternative in the BAH environment. Carefully listening to feedback from users has helped make the system better, faster and easier with continuous iteration of improvement.
A central issue remains the goal and purpose driven focus at all levels of specificity, particularly hard in a company that was adding five thousand employees a year, and also losing significant numbers. This is a fairly typical problem in the current economic climate for other companies, with mergers, acquisitions and consolidations applying significant pressures to the original purpose and intent of collaborative environments.
Designing strategy for enduring, viable collaborative intents increasingly needs to be robust enough to remain relevant through the rigors of change. The original founders of environments frequently move on as well as the user base, and retaining purpose and goals can be a challenge.
Booz Allen appear to have succeeded in keeping their core team focus on the business value of their 'Hello' environment through technical changes and some separate outbound focus on reselling their internal collaborative concepts to their consulting clients.