For a Secure Future, Embrace Web 2.0 at Work

I understand why IT routinely dismisses much hyped concepts like “Web 2.0” and “social networking” in the enterprise. After all they can seem faddish and silly, time wasters that don’t apply to the bottom-line world of business. Facebook? Get serious.

But for the past couple of years I’ve been trying to encourage everyone in business tech to  embrace the ideas of a more socially networked workplace. Now I’m happy to report I have the numbers to back up my own argument. They come straight from McKinsey, and I like what they show. You will, too.

The analysis is based on a survey of 3,249 executives across a variety of regions and industries. Two-thirds of the respondents reported using “Web 2.0” (loosely defined) in their organizations. The big conclusion: Companies using the Web intensively gain greater market share and higher profit margins. Here’s the money quote:

A new class of company is emerging – one that uses  collaborative Web 2.0 technologies intensively to connect the internal efforts of employees and to extend the organization’s reach to customers, partners, and suppliers … Our data show that fully networked enterprises are not only more likely to be market leaders or to be gaining market share but also use  management practices that lead to margins higher than those of companies using the Web in more limited ways.

When the CEO reads this, it’s you he’ll likely come to: Sixty one percent of respondents say it’s IT’s job to figure out how to implement such initiatives. What are they working on? The number one response is social networking, either within the organization, externally, or often both. Respondents at nearly half of the companies says use social networking and that at least 51 percent of their employees use it. In 2010, nearly two-thirds of respondents at companies using Web 2.0 said they’d increase future investments.

Three types of organizations seem to have embraced Web 2.0 in significant ways: internally networked organizations that build it into workflow for new efficiencies, externally networked organizations that focus on reaching out to customers and business partners, and fully networked enterprises – only about 3 percent of the survey – that are reaping big rewards such as statistically significant gains in market share and profit margins.

Falling behind in creating these internal and external networks could be a big mistake. Therefore, your IT team should:

– Integrate the use of Web 2.0 day-to-day work activities.
– Continue to drive adoption and usage.
– Break down the barriers to organizational change.
– Apply Web 2.0 technologies to interactions with customers, business partners, and employees.

See, I knew I was right. I just needed someone to crank out a few charts and graphs to back me up. There’s plenty of potential here. If only 3 percent of companies totally get it, there are lots more that need to get religion. Will your enterprise be in the next 10 percent or the last 10 percent? Here’s hoping you jump on sooner rather than later.

Don Willmott