Thursday, June 5, 2008

IDC says HR to help Web 2.0 adoption. Um...what?

I just read an article by writer Lawrence Casiraya that had me raising my eyebrows. He interviewed IDC's Shalini Verma about the concept of "unified communications" and how Web 2.0 technologies such as social networking can help distributed organizations collaborate more effectively.

Here's the money quote.
So how can businesses begin to embrace Web 2.0? The task may fall into the hands of the human resource department.

What was Verma thinking? HR, together with IT, have been the main forces preventing adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in the workplace. According to Verma, HR should conduct a survey to find out what technologies are already being used and then make a plan for company-wide adoption of the most useful tools.

Well, I doubt that will work. Pretend we are listening to a conversation between two 'screenagers' when they get a survey from HR...

Nancy Networker: Did you see this survey from HR? They're trying to find out what sort of web apps we use. Why do they want to know?

Wally Widgetuser: (Smirking knowingly to Nancy) The survey says it's because they want to help us collaborate more effectively across the company.

Nancy and Wally have a good, cynical laugh.

Nancy: Well, I'm not telling them anything. The last thing I need is for them to shut down Facebook. It's the only way I keep in touch with the guys in Thailand.

Wally: You got that right. If I tell them I'm building mashups to keep track of my customer information, they'd freak.

Nancy: I'm just going to say I use Google Docs. I can live without them if HR and IT shut them down.


OK, the situation may not be that bad, but I'd wager that, given HR's history, there won't be a lot of trust between HR and the employees.

What's the answer?

I think HR could take the lead, but they'll have to do some groundwork first to establish some trust and credibility with the rest of the organization. Executive sponsorship wouldn't hurt either. In my own case, I spent well over a year blogging under a different name, knowing I'd be shut down if HR found out. I came out of the closet when Serena's executive leadership started promoting the use of social networking.

In addition to getting very visible executive support, HR could start publishing internal case studies about how people in the company use Web 2.0 to promote collaboration. Maybe someone in HR uses pbwiki to collaborate on ideas for the company picnic. Maybe someone in PR uses Second Life to conduct press conferences. (OK, that one's off the wall.) Perhaps someone in sales uses a mashup to get information before a customer call. If HR spends some time up front promoting the use of these collaborative tools, then maybe they will be trusted.


But we all remember when HR shut down MySpace, told us we couldn't blog, and forbade us from giving recommendations on LinkedIn. They've got a ways to go before we trust them with the dark secret that we use OpenKapow to scrape competitive information, or that we swap musical stations with clients on Pandora.

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