User Adoption Chronicles

Thank you Dennis Howlett for alerting the Irregulars to this story coming out of the U.K. The sentiment jibes with what I’ve been seeing lately about hurdles in user adoption. I know Jevon McDonald does not like the term “adoption,” and I’m happy to use a replacement, but mass adoption of web 2.0 in the enterprise is what separates us from widespread revolutionary change and where we are today.

First a few thoughts on this UK piece. When I first read the headline, “Fears of brand damage scaring banks away from Web 2.0” I read it as, “Fears of brain damage scaring banks away from Web 2.0” which might make more sense. 🙂 I found myself wondering who they polled– marketing execs? IT execs? officers? If they polled marketing execs, I’d be really interested in their reasoning, which unfortunately this piece does not provide. If they polled IT execs or officers, my suspicion is this answer is camouflaging a larger issue which has to do more with a loss of control.

Along these lines, here are some lone wolves crying out in the wilderness of user adoption:

I found this post a last week from a European blog. Three guys from France, Germany, and Italy trying to push the e2.0 agenda. The sentiments are similar to a note I received last week from a blogging bud who has been valiantly trying to kickstart his investment bank’s foray into enterprise 2.0 adoption.

First the euro-istas:

I said in my previous post about strategy 2.0 beta, that one of the main problem in technology adoption is user habits and managers education – it is still true of course, but today I would like to add a key problem that was implicit in my post : IT development.

Here we are.

I am currently investigating the needs of the users within my company in order to suggest a brand new Intranet. I will propose of course a web 2.0 strategy with a long term approach.
But what’s going to happen even if I the users and my managers give me their goes?
IT department will say “Impossible with software we have, too dangerous to plug different applications in our environment” and so on.


Because large companies are not famous for rapid adoption of new tools.
Most of companies are using SAP, Microsoft or IBM. IT managers don’t take the risk to connect applications that could be incompatible. These software firms are only starting to propose some kind of web 2.0 related features. By experience, it is often tricky to integrate the 1.0 versions of software.

In brief, if big software firms launch some web 2.0 features this year, IT dprt will think about it the year after, and integration will be finished after one year more. In the best scenario (that implies that everyone already agreed that we should have collaborative and web2.0 features), it means that my company could have an Intranet 2.0 in…2009.

Now, the Investment Bank:

1) E2.0 in practice in a diversified financial services firm is a completely different beast than E2.0 in theory…the information sharing barriers inherent in the business mean that security and permissioning needs to be built into EVERYTHING…which immediately complicates what is supposed to be simple. Legal departments want ‘nothing’ shared, because then they don’t have to be worried about inappropriate things being shared…even if you have proper user-based security sharing rules in place, they still are uncomfortable with the fact that IT might be implementing a system that encourages security breaches.


2) E2.0 in large organizations with large IT departments and large bureaucracy MUST have management buy-in at some level…it is impossible for workers to install and start using IT that is not sanctioned by the IT department (the restrictions on what users can and cannot do are enormous).


3) I am trying to combine the best of ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ by developing Enterprise-wide E2.0 solutions that can be adopted (or not) by various business units. Generic E2.0 toolkits (like tagging, RSS, social bookmarking, blogging, wiki, etc.) need to be on a common system so that they can all connect and talk to each other…this is essential to a successful E2.0 ‘system’


4) Even though some parts of E2.0 will be emergent and freeform… I think that some of it might be structured as well. For instance, when talking about document management and tagging… in order to maintain critical metadata on a document, we NEED users to tag the document with a specific code… if tagging was completely freeform, then users would not be prompted for this code… and therefore they would never enter it… so you can see how some structure might be necessary for E2.0 to be successful.


I think that the combination of a tipping point with Web 2.0 in the outside world (coming soon, if it hasn’t already)…plus the fact that Enterprise software vendors seemed to have grasped E2.0 pretty heavily (Microsoft, ibm, Cisco, sap, Intel, start-ups, etc.) and will be pushing E2.0 solutions to their clients will combine to change the intranet as we know it today in 5 years. I’m not saying that everything will be emergent and freeform though…but I do think that E2.0 tools such as social networking, blogging, social bookmarking, RSS, wikis, search, and collaboration sites (SharePoint) will be prevalent on the Intranet of 2012!!

Author: Susan Scrupski

Longtime fan of technology to improve humanity.