InformationWeek reports on Wachovia's push to introduce social software into the enterprise.
Beyond connecting employees around the world, Wachovia's collaborative environment is designed to attract younger Generation Y employees who expect access to Web 2.0 tools at work. "Business in general has a real challenge engaging Generation Y," said Fields. "They're coming to us with high enthusiasm but encountering arcane tools and bureaucracies," he said, adding that many young workers' engagement levels "fall off the table" after about a year on the job. "They are leaving Fortune 100 companies," he said.
The company started by piloting wikis that represented "non-threatening use cases," and are expanding out from there. They will be building their set of tools based on Sharepoint services.
As younger knowledge workers enter the workplace and see the cumbersome legacy tools, or lack of tools, provided by some enterprises, they will clamor for the services they already use on the Internet and bitch about the inadequacy of what they have. I know I did when I worked in a large corporation.
Starting around 2000, with IM and then moving on the wikis, and social bookmarking, I got our group to bypass IT to install AIM and Usemod, and built our own social bookmarking tools. We learned to get things done better, faster, and smarter. I never asked for permission. I just did my job the best way I could.
There's no reason young information workers should need to ask for these tools now. You'd better just have them or we'll look outside to get them. But if you want to address issues such as security, it's better to heed the rumble from the grassroots.
The realization within the really large corporations like Wachovia to accept the new paradigm of doing business openly within the enterprise is a sign that the idea has taken root, and we shouldn't need to describe or document the need any longer. The tools are mature enough for IT consider in terms of security and journaling functionalities. Enterprise social software is slowly following in the wake of acceptance of the Cluetrain, and the paradigm of open markets and transparent communications with businesses. The timing is right and the tools are tested.
If I have any say in the matter, I won't ever work for another large company again. It took a lot of effort in evangelizing, socializing, and implementing tools for more efficient communications and documentation processes. But should I ever find myself back in a large corporation some day in the future, I'd wager that some form of the social software I use today will be present in those companies.