Do we finally have the right technologies for knowledge work? Wikis, blogs, group-messaging software and the like can make a corporate intranet into a constantly changing structure built by distributed, autonomous peers — a collaborative platform that reflects the way work really gets done.
There is a new wave of business communication tools including blogs, wikis and group messaging software — which the author has dubbed, collectively, Enterprise 2.0 — that allow for more spontaneous, knowledge-based collaboration. These new tools, the author contends, may well supplant other communication and knowledge management systems with their superior ability to capture tacit knowledge, best practices and relevant experiences from throughout a company and make them readily available to more users. This article offers a paradigm that highlights the salient characteristics of these new technologies, which the author refers to as SLATES (search, links, authoring, tags, extensions, signals). The resulting organizational communication patterns can lead to highly productive and highly collaborative environments by making both the practices of knowledge work and its outputs more visible. Drawing on case studies and survey data, the article offers managers a set of ground rules for implementing the new technologies. First, it is necessary to create a receptive culture in order to prepare the way for new practices. Second, a common platform must be created to allow for a collaboration infrastructure. Third, an informal rollout of the technologies may be preferred to a more formal procedural change. And fourth, managerial support and leadership is crucial. Even when implanted and implemented well, these new technologies will certainly bring with them new challenges. These tools may well reduce management’s ability to exert unilateral control and to express some level of negativity. Whether a company’s leaders really want this to happen and will be able to resist the temptation to silence dissent is an open question. Leaders will have to play a delicate role if they want Enterprise 2.0 technologies to succeed.