The Enterprise 2.0 Candy Store

After spending Herculean efforts to get executives at your company to “get” social computing, you finally receive the green light to rock and roll.  You think you have reached the promised land.  But a new challenge, one that can derail your efforts, is looming on the horizon:  The executive who is a kid in the Enterprise 2.0 candy store.

What is the kid in the candy store syndrome?  It is an executive who went from curmudgeon to sipping the KoolAid…but now wants to drink every flavor of KoolAid.  One of the key symptoms is daily email messages asking if you have “looked at X vendor or vendor Y”. You suddenly go from executing & deploying selected vendor(s) products to chasing shiny objects.  Vendors that were originally evaluated and didn’t make the short list, are using foilware “flare” to lure the novice executive into their grasps.  Enterprise vendors that once laughed off 2.0, suddenly have an “integrated” offering.  Your problem is potentially massive because everyone and their brother is entering into this space.  In 2010, it will be hard to find a HR, Sales, Enterprise, Supply Chain supplier that isn’t 2.0 “ized”.  Executives who are salivating in the Enterprise 2.0 candy store will send your strategy, execution & your team into a tailspin.  How can you avoid and manage the sugar high?  Here are tactics that I use to manage the challenge:

  • Solid business & technical requirements is your deflector shield:  If you have well documented requirements and use those to evaluate all vendors’ solutions, then you have a data driven process.  Data is the best weapon to fight off emotional knee jerk reactions.
  • Set-up a dedicated play area:  We are still in the infancy stage of 2.0. You aren’t going to find one vendor who can deliver everything you need nor have one solution you can deploy and leave alone for 3 years. If you wait for the perfect solution, you will be waiting for a while. Pick vendors that satisfy the core solutions you need to deploy today.  At the same time, set-up a sandbox that allows your team & bleeding edge adopters to try out new “candy”, test usage models and watch list potential future capabilities.
  • Leverage analyst reviews:  Industry analysts get a bird’s eye view of all the vendors in the space.  They are on the vendor “briefing” circuit and get advance insight into company product direction.  Top analysts will also publish reviews & ratings of the vendors.  One report could potentially save you from meeting with a multitude of vendors and arms you with credible data to discuss with your candy store executive.
  • Usage model proof-of-concepts: Some of the best feedback comes directly from the end users themselves.  Once you have a short list of vendor products (recommend 3 max), throw them into a 2-3 week bakeoff.  Key users and business stakeholders are invited in to test their usage models, their requirements and usability of the menu of solutions.  If users have given a product a thumbs down, they will not use it if you decide to deploy it.
  • Develop vendor scorecards & executive business reviews: Performance of your current vendor is critical to ensure you are delivering business value to your company.  Using scorecards that rate the vendor on delivering to your expectations, not only helps you do robust vendor management, but it allows you to have indicators.  If you have a scorecard that shows everything is in the green, then it is hard to make an argument to change vendors just for the sake of trying new “flavors”.  In addition, pulling in your executive into quarterly or bi-annual executive level reviews, can provide assurance  that your vendor selection is still the sound choice.
  • Show the cost of change: Stabilization is essential towards achieving critical adoption of your Enterprise 2.0 platform.  Any changes in your standard solution, especially to the user interface (UI), should be minor.  It is challenging enough to encourage employees to incorporate 2.0 technologies into their flow of work, let alone force them to constantly re-learn technologies because the vendor changed.  Changing the user interface will hamper full adoption, which hampers your ability to extract full business value.  In addition, there is a resource cost for data migration from one platform to another.  A value tenet of social computing should be to reduce time and reduce costs – not add to them. Financial impact speaks volumes.


  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brtty-King/100002486439543 Brtty King

    I agree Great post and I’ll come back soon for more information.Thanks very much for a good book. I’ll use it as my reference for a lifetime..
    On the other hand, the most effective component of this deal will be the free of charge gifts which consists of items that persons only dream of possessing. Free of charge laptop, cost-free Xbox 360 gaming console, no cost LCD Television, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Bluetooth headsets along with other mobile accessories etc.
    http://collectiblesxgifts.com/

  • http://www.auterytech.com/ Steve

    Most “integrated offerings” have so many different kinds of candy (micromessaging, blogs, wikis, widgets, tags, tables, collaborative spreadsheets, etc.) to try within their own walls, that it would take months just to try them out in different business use cases. And other candy stores (vendors) have more or less the same kinds of candy. My company just adopted Socialtext, which has a very robust set of integrated functionality. Our challenge is to get executives to try the candy for an extended period of time to really get the sugar in their system.

    And finally, the biggest challenge is to convince everyone that the candy is actually good for them.

  • http://www.lauriebuczek.com Laurie Buczek

    @ Ethan- I am a big fan of the POST methodology from Forrester/Groundswell too. Thanks for the link!
    @Sameer- managing it will be key
    @ Steve Brewer – you are spot on on all accounts!
    @ Steve Bell – I like that tactic. Goes to Steve Brewers of having them taste test the candy themselves.

  • http://blog.allyis.com Ethan Yarbrough

    Laurie, good points. I like that you begin your list of tips by emphasizing the importance of business requirements. Executives can get very excited by the next new thing, but they also have in their DNA a sensitivity to ROI. It’s worth pointing out to the execs that if they make decisions about what tools to build based on what they like rather than based on what problems and challenges that exist within the organization that require fixing, they’re setting themselves up for almost certain negative ROI. The needs of the organization need to lead to the strategic and technical choices. What you’re saying here reminds me of what Li and Bernoff discuss in their book Groundswell, specifically their POST method to developing social computing solutions (People, Objective, Strategy, Technology) — who are the users, what will they use? What objective are you really trying to achieve? What strategy do you have for fostering adoption and, more importantly, how does this idea fit into your overall business strategy (the technology is not your strategy, it is a tactic) and finally, which is the right technology (or vendor) to choose to best create a tool that aids your strategy in pursuit of your objective. Good slide deck here with an overview of Groundswell: http://www.slideshare.net/bnixon/groundswell-post-process-presentation

    Thanks for posting your thoughts. Very helpful.

  • http://www.pretzellogic.org Sameer Patel

    Laurie,
    Its so nice of you to share this. So refreshing to see some tangible and re-purposable how-tos.

    I’d say 70% of program managers (at companies that are taking social computing seriously) are facing this right now and almost all will see this over time. If the last spike in intranet/portal/KM uptake is any indication, it will get ugly. We had to navigate this mid cycle intervention on almost every single engagement we worked on back then.

  • http://stevebrewer.wordpress.com/ Steve Brewer

    Most “integrated offerings” have so many different kinds of candy (micromessaging, blogs, wikis, widgets, tags, tables, collaborative spreadsheets, etc.) to try within their own walls, that it would take months just to try them out in different business use cases. And other candy stores (vendors) have more or less the same kinds of candy. My company just adopted Socialtext, which has a very robust set of integrated functionality. Our challenge is to get executives to try the candy for an extended period of time to really get the sugar in their system.

    And finally, the biggest challenge is to convince everyone that the candy is actually good for them.

  • Pingback: Kicking off the 5Ws of e20: Who, What, When, Why, and How?

  • http://enterprise20.squarespace.com Saqib Ali

    What’s so wrong about being a kid in the candy store?

    Remember if you don’t let the exec browse the candy store, they will gravitate back to warm, fuzzy traditional “knowledge management”, which gives them a feeling of being in control…..

  • http://stevebellnow.com/ Steve Bell

    Could not agree more….

    I would add one more item to tactics… This maybe pushing the boundries, but why not. Have the executives use the current tools and capabilities to fully understand what they have today. It is easy to get wrapped up in the shiny new candy… Especially if you don’t fully know what you have today and the direction that the strategy has laid out. It can not be a simple education process, they don’t work. Seeing new candy, you have to ask – how many calories or why is X better than Y. First you have to know the calorie content or Y product.