While Microsoft is the leader in terms of vendors in use now, thanks to SharePoint and Office, when it comes to overall performance, IT pros ranked Socialtext and Jive Software the top two providers, and IBM a close third. Microsoft checked in near the bottom. Customers are clearly finding value from small and upstart vendors, not just the largest players.
Andrew McAfee in his blog writes about how Indian IT firm TCS is going about implementing Enterprise 2.0 initiatives, spearheaded by my Twitter friend Krish Ashok focused on knowledge sharing using a QnA approach
As I listened to the TCS Lab team talk about how they went about their work, I heard a lot of good ideas. They skipped the constrained pilot and went enterprise-wide right away. They built in simple mechanisms to let people give feedback and praise, and signal especially helpful answers. This adds structure over time to the mass of information, and also gives people incentive to participate and be helpful to their colleagues.
This incentive is not ‘hard’ at TCS; a person’s scores and reputation in the Q&A environment are not directly tied to her compensation or performance review. Instead, they’re a lot closer to the incentives to be good at a multiplayer online game — mastery made visible, reputation within a community, position on top of a ‘leader board,’ and so on. TCS also made the smart move not to limit questions and answers to work topics; as they were showing me the live system I saw more than a couple questions about cricket.
Now, in some important ways TCS is pretty well positioned to succeed with Enterprise 2.0. It’s full of younger workers – digital natives – who are natural technophiles. Most of them write code for a living, after all. So if a well-designed 2.0 tool comes along to help them collaborate and interact with their peers, they might be expected to jump on it. I want to stress, though, that they’re compensated and promoted by being billable at work, not by being good citizens of the enterprise. So they could also be expected to ignore it, unless it were scratching some itch of theirs.
It clearly is. It’s meeting TCS people’s need to get questions answered and their desire to be helpful to others. It’s also bringing them pleasure when they see themselves atop a leader board, and activating their competitive juices when someone knocks them out of the top spot. And it’s showing the world of TCS what they’re good at, and expertise demonstration matters to people even when is not directly tied to a paycheck. I heard that TCSers frequently responded to questions in areas that had nothing to do with their current job titles or assumed expertise.
So I’m left wondering: what are the good reasons, if any, not to do try something like this in every enterprise? Are there legitimate reasons to hold back from trying to replicate TCS’s successes? I’m struggling to come up with any. The TCS team had no horror stories to share with me – no instances where the Q&A system had been badly abused — and as I’ve written I have less and less patience for arguments against E2.0 based on vague ‘security’ concerns.
Great to hear this story about TCS and Krish’s success with using social tools to make KM work there.
So are you ready to try out something like this for your organization? Give me a call 🙂