Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Wikipedia, wikis and social media marketing – 7

Posted in book recommendations, social networking and business, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on March 30, 2011

This is my seventh posting in a series on wikis in business and as business resources (see Web 2.0 Marketing, postings 40 and 42 through 46 for installments 1-6) and I begin it by repeating a statement I made towards the end of Part 6 as a starting point.

• “If your organization faces delays and inefficiencies that seem to come from institutional inertia, as many and perhaps most larger organizations do with time, that strongly suggests a more robust internal information infrastructure would help.”

My goal in this posting is to explore more explicitly a set of issues that I have touched on many times, (see Business Strategy and Operations) but that I have not really looked into with specific focus.

With time, many if not most organizations develop complex systems of internal access and communications, matching lines of authority and patterns of turf ownership. Historical precedent and the momentum of accumulated unexamined assumptions contribute to this and internal walls build up. Organizations become sclerotic and hidebound, and unable to even recognize let alone act upon new and emerging opportunity. So when new and less encumbered businesses start up and challenge them, and both for new and emerging market opportunities, and with time for their own established markets they are less and less able to effectively respond.

This does not have to happen but the history of business is replete with case studies of businesses that achieved greatness to see that slip away, and from the continued following of precedent and process that was no longer relevant or value-adding, and from the blocking and limiting action of their internal silo walls.

There are some excellent works that explicitly deal with this and I cite by way of example:

• Collins, Jim. (2009) How the Mighty Fall (and why some companies never give up). HarperCollins.

But to me it is much more telling how many businesses highlighted in the success story oriented accounts such as:

• Collins, J. (2001) Good to Great. Harper Business.

or its counterpart in success continuity,

• Collins, J. and Porras, J.I. (2002) Built to Last. Collins Business Essentials.

cite businesses that then go on to markedly decline. I would propose what I see as an emerging reason for this to happen that I expect to become more and more important and across marketplaces and industries.

Effective internal information infrastructures cannot exist, let alone provide value or support effective return on investment:

• When silo walls and internal barriers predominate and
• When information and knowledge sharing are institutionally thwarted and discouraged.

With that, any serious effort to build an effective internal information infrastructure would shed light on barriers and inefficiencies and challenge them in ways that would reduce them and their impact. Most businesses start this process to the extent they do with a more traditional web-based channel – an intranet and probably a web 1.0 oriented central publishing model intranet. I raise this in the context of wikis as components to the internally oriented information infrastructure precisely because they are a more challenging and far-reaching approach that would essentially never be developed as a first step. But developing and offering a wiki as part of the basic information infrastructure is a step that might very well be taken by a business or organization that has actively set out on a path to maintaining, and if necessary rediscovering its flexibility and competitiveness.

Collaborative and far reaching internal information infrastructures with interactive intranets and a range of other tools and resources can become a source of unique value propositions and of sustaining and long term success. This is particularly true where resources that may be out of the ordinary such as wikis are added in, creating new and even novel information and resource sharing capabilities that the competition cannot match.

In this, do not look at your current practices and processes or your current organizational goals to see what information creation and sharing tools to develop and promote in your business. Look farther out to what you can build and develop your business into for that, and then see what makes sense to include and build into.

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