In the past few weeks I have been involved to give my opinion and to advise certain Enterprises in different areas about Portal projects / Enterprise 2.0 projects. The companies I talked with are not small:
- A relatively small Insurance company, but very successful in their market approach. They are considering to implement their online strategy with more self service and cross selling possibilities. They are currently comparing CMS and Portal technology, a comparison that is hard to do when you still think that Single Signon and Visual Consistency aren’t a problem for a decent level of user experience. I guess it’s easy to say such things if you’re a successful marketeer who is making your targets in a company where there are no real online visionaries.
- A leading publishing house, in the Top 10 of the world. They tried to kickoff an internal project with different internal departments. Although they already have Portal standards in house, convincing colleagues is still hard to do, even if C-level made their choices clearly and still want to keep the same deadlines. People can still feel pissed because they were ‘overuled’, especially in a culture in the Netherlands where the Top-down approach is not easily appreciated. And when you put professionals together, it’s still quite hard for real professionals who have years and years of experience with online projects to handle internal clients who think they know it all but don’t have real online experience. The arguments ‘we have spent manyears to develop our plans’ just sink when the result let’s you think that you can plan a online project fully if you only have business requirements. This internal client was still thinking that the conceptual and design process still depended on the choice of technology. Internal politics and matrix organizations make it really hard for old Enterprises to really do Enterprise 2.0, thus it will be hard for them to deliver good Enterprise 2.0 concepts for the benefits of their clients.
- A leading telecom provider, in the Top 10 of the world who is researching what kind of features would make their website more useful for their customers. Although I know they already have Portal technology already 2-3 years in house, for me it was surprising that all kinds of functionality concepts that are native to portal area only in the Alpha stage of their marketing process. The introduced ideas showed that the marketing is ready for it, I just hope that their IT will be ready.
All these companies can use their web platforms to gather a lot of information about their client’s behavior and can develop business rules and personal proposals that might intrude on their customers privacy. All players understand that they have different client groups, different online references, different opinions about privacy, different spending behaviors. It seems that the necessity for personalization is a must and that it should be possible to opt-in and opt-out for different services. But it’s quite different how far companies think about the possibilities of personalization, but it’s obvious that only the real BIG guys can make it really interesting.
All of the above had the following problems regarding such a project
- It takes a great deal of a time to get a project started, especially with Portal technology;
- The concept of mashups and ‘pushing their own content / applications into other environments’ was really ‘a step too far’;
- The decision process and additional overhead just takes a lot of time and money. In an era where we believe that informal communities can deliver strong results, why can’t internal formal communities be trusted to deliver more;
Enterprise 2.0 is a hype, but does have value
So if the relations that I talk with, International Enterprise customers in the Netherlands with a consumer group that uses internet very frequently, have problems understanding mashups and portal. And if business and IT still mistrust each other and are continuously trying to cover their asses for any mistakes, because their current organization is likely to punish them for budget issues on the short term … Then I think not many Enterprises can get enough people to support a long term vision to pursue an Enterprise 2.0 strategy with real full service portals. Truly this is really too bad, because if I can setup an international organization with Web 2.0 technologies where young people really try to feel united and really work together to service Enterprise clients. Then I wonder what Enterprises can do to change society if they would use the same Web 2.0 tools to make their professionals really work together achieve longterm, enduring and big successes. Sometimes I wonder what I could do on C-level of such companies …