Since you can’t make a case for Enterprise 2.0 using ROI calculations, it’s tempting to rely on anecdotal evidence instead. Once the storytelling begins, it usually doesn’t take long before social networking sites like Wikipedia, LinkedIn or Facebook come up. But there’s great danger in using these sites as justification for Enterprise 2.0 investment.
Consider Wikipedia. Looking at Wikipedia’s statistics and Alexa’s Internet traffic data, we find that out of the entire online population less than 10 percent visit Wikipedia during the course of a year. And that includes all visitors — the rates for people that contribute content to Wikipedia is a mere fraction of that.
The numbers for other large websites are equally depressing. Using social network statistics from Jeremiah Owyang of Forester from earlier this year, MySpace and Facebook have 8 percent and 4 percent of the online audience respectively. What gives? Aren’t these the leading lights of Web 2.0?
What makes these sites work is massive scale. You can take a “build it and they will come” approach if the population of potential users is large enough. In the case of the world wide web, we’re talking about 1.4 billion people according to Internet World Stats.
But in an organization of 100 people, you’d be fortunate to get 10 people using the system and extremely lucky to have 3 people contributing information. Would a user adoption rate of less than 10 percent qualify as success in your business? I don’t think so.
If you want your Enterprise 2.0 deployment to work, you have to focus on user adoption.
The hard truth is that if you want an Enterprise 2.0 application to succeed, you must be prepared to sacrifice everything to delight your customers. And these sacrifices will include treasured organizational imperatives. You’ll have to do things like:
You’ll find yourself in the midst of turf wars and political infighting. There will be squabbles over budget and resources. Change management and training will consume months, if not years, of your time.
Sure, you can duck these issues, and take a “build it and they will come” attitude. And if you are fantastically lucky, you might just achieve the same adoption rate as LinkedIn: 3 percent.