The 7 Evolutionary Phases of Enterprise 2.0

In order to forge ahead, one must understand the past. This may have been something a philosophy professor told you years ago, but the results of a new survey from Silver Spring, Md.–based enterprise content management firm AIIM indicates that it can also be applied to the business world. In fact, 44 percent of those surveyed say that Enterprise 2.0 technologies are imperative or of significant importance for their organizations.

Based on the survey findings, AIIM has developed what it's calling the AIIM Worker Model, comprising seven evolutionary phases:

  • Islands of Me — the beginning of organizational use of personal computers in which there was a culture of protectionism within facets of an organization;
  • One-Way Me/Enterprise 1.0 — coworkers ask each other for information, but still only on a "need-to-know" basis;
  • Team Me — employees understand their own individual power within their work community, but it does not expand enterprisewide;
  • Proactive Me/Enterprise 1.5 — the ability to always be connected as workers could be distributed globally;
  • Two-Way Me — communities are explicitly and purposefully created, and collective intelligence is beginning to surface -- albeit not in an automatic way;
  • Islands of We — focus is on a larger team level and explicitly looks at how networking and community development can drive benefits to the entire organization; and
  • Extended Me/Enterprise 2.0 (still in the early-adopter phase)utilizes different information systems in order to foster transparency, has developed a participatory and engaged community, and has the agility to quickly adapt to changing environments.

According to Bob Larrivee, director of AIIM North American education services, the purpose of the AIIM Worker Model is to help companies understand where Enterprise 2.0 fits historically withi their organizations. "If you look back, information has basically been siloed," he says. "We hope a more open, collaborative environment with knowledge-sharing [using] Web 2.0 technology will enhance the work environment."

Larrivee says that determining which companies were further along the evolutionary chain than others depended on the size of the organizations. He says that many Fortune 500 companies are already utilizing Web 2.0 technologies in their businesses, but notes small-to-midsize businesses as a whole lag behind, with some still in the beginning phases. "It also depends on the industries," he adds, noting that the financial services and health-care sectors are ahead of the curve.

Companies seeking to move up the chain to Enterprise 2.0 would be making a huge mistake to focus specifically on the technology, Larrivee says. He argues that the shift from a cultural standpoint is more important. "If you look back at history, we've seen events causing people to be more introverted and reluctant to share information," he recalls. "[Businesses] must embrace the mindset change. If you have folks who aren't familiar with the conceptual use of blogs and wikis then you may not be ready to make that transition."

Looking ahead, Larrivee says it's impossible to estimate when the vast majority of organizations will move up the evolutionary chain and meet the now-early adopters in the Enterprise 2.0 stage. "I think you'll start to see it rapidly advance five years from now, but I can't guarantee that will be the case," he says. "The main thing is that organizations want to evolve -- they just don't know where to start."


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