As an attendee for the last two years at the Enterprise 2.0 conference where many but certainly not all speakers seem to focus on issues like:

  • How to get more organizations to use web 2.0 products and technologies?
  • How to get more employees to use web 2.0 products and technologies?

It seems to me that I’ve seen this problem before. In the early 1980s, the North American automotive industry was suffering from a quality gap with the Japanese. And the question that the ASQC (American Society for Quality Control) and the automotive manufacturers and their suppliers asked all the time, was ‘how to get more organizations to adopt statistical control methods?’ and ‘how to get more employees to adopt statistical process control methods?’

That’s when I learned, as a graduate materials engineer in my first jobs, that there has to be a solid business rationale for adopting anything – otherwise ____ (insert name of initiative here) will lack proof of positive impact on the business and then it will go the way of the steam engine.

And to return to the issue of the conference, only solid business cases and solid benefits will lead to technology adoption. Only the testimonial of someone I know and work with everyday will get me to adopt it as an experiment at first, then more broadly as a tool for achieving work more regularly and finally as an integral element of my worklife. It’s sort of like how the art of taking messages has died in favor of automated voicemail services. At one time everybody had a secretrary at the end of the cubicle row taking messages when you were out. Then they disappeared and the message waiting lamp on the phone was an innovation. But not everybody had it right away and as these things go, they take time to diffuse throughout the economy.

If the business benefits are big enough, it will happen, but only one company and one user at a time.

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