For years I saw and wrote that the only knowledge management efforts (where I had direct contact) that were successful were those that were integrated into work processes. This was the case with my first KM project in 1992 that grew out of trying to improve insurance underwriting and claims results and this trend continued through the rest of them. You had to start with a business issue, add knowledge management into the work processes and then measure success by improvement in the work process, not through usage stats or other disconnected measures.
When social media first came out I thought they might be different. I though that that perhaps you could implement them and let people discover valuable use cases. Now, I am now convinced that what held for knowledge management holds for social media and enterprise 2.0. A number of the vendors that I have been talking with are coming to this conclusion and making integration with workflow oriented enterprise apps a priority.
I recently read a post by Andy McAfee that makes the same point in very clear terms. He, in turn, quotes a post by Laurie Buczek, The Big Failure of Enterprise 2.0 Social Business. “Culture will change as a result of the pervasive use of social tools. Lack of cultural change is not social business’s biggest failure. The biggest failure is the lack of workflow integration to drive culture change.” Ahem.
As Richard Hughes at Clearvale said to me recently, if an enterprise social networking tool does not integrate with the existing enterprise apps it is limited to simply facilitating water cooler chat. It stays on the side lines. I could not agree more. This is what enterprise 2.0 needs to do to move beyond Web 2.0 in the enterprise. Other software firms that I am speaking to have also moved in this direction: Moxie, Traction, Socialtext, and DoubleDutch, being the most recent but not the only ones. I like this recognition of where the value resides.