Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Overcome Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Barriers

Well I've been blogging a lot about Enterprise 2.0 and I'm sure we all know what benefits it is capable of bringing to an organization. Unfortunately, according to Go-Gulf, only 23% of Fortune500 companies are actually blogging. Today, I'll be talking about what stops these companies from adopting social tools into their business and how we can overcome adoption issues.

Earlier this year Silverman Research started a research by asking people what they think are main barriers for organisations in embracing social media. The study identified four main barriers to social media adoption in organisation, which are:
  • Lack of knowledge and understanding
  • Fear
  • Absence of a well-grounded business case
  • Unprepared leadership

Results from the Silverman Research

A few years ago, the world's largest publisher and distributer of children's books, Scholastic, had a few employees which had the interest of starting a corporate blog. With a few of these barriers, their boss was not too keen on this idea.But, they did not give up. Instead, they were given the chance to type out blog posts everyday for a month.

When their boss realized it was a good idea, she approved it and decided to go with it. With that, these employees proved to their boss that corporate blogging will work. Now the blogging team has 9 people and publishes posts up to 10 times a week. Scholastic has gained many diverse readers who comse back to read their articles on a daily basis. Proving that social tools will and can be beneficial to the organisation was their key to Scholastic's social media adoption.

Employees who pioneered blogging in Scholastic giving a presentation

Sometimes those who hold back from adopting Enterprise 2.0 tools are not the employers, but the employees instead. But as a leading multinational technology and consulting corporation, IBM started encouraging it's employees to engage and embrace social media. Ever since 1997, the company has allowed its employees to use the Internet while most companies did not.

According to K R Prabhakar, in 2003, IBM made a strategic decision to encourage employees to participate in blogs and embrace the blogosphere. IBM did not regulate employee social media activity but instead encouraged employees to collaborate, share and drive innovation. Employees are educated about the guidelines and policies and are provided the necessary social media platforms.

IBM's ROI and benefits after adopting social media

By doing so, it resulted in cost reductions, greater revenue, high employee satisfaction, and the birth of more innovative ideas. As employers, it is essential to set the example and encourage employees to embrace social media. This is helps guide those working with the organisation to accept, be interested, and adopt Enterprise 2.0 tools as part of their work.

Besides the 2 examples mentioned, one can also apply Kotter's "8-Step Process for Leading Change" to help an organization embrace Enterprise 2.0. His theory involves creating climate for change, engaging and enabling the organization, and implementing and sustaining the change.

Those who have trouble getting organizations to adopt social media tools can use this theory as a guide to transform and bring forth a paradigm shift within the organization, which will lead them to the acceptance and embracing of Enterprise 2.0 tools.

Final thoughts: Overall, I believe that showing them the benefits, proving to them it works, and assuring them that the risks are worth it will definitely help overcome these barriers to social media adoption. Do you have any other strategies to overcome adoption barriers? Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section.


  1. Hey Zeng.
    Great post. Great examples of cases where both management and staff needed a little bit of persuading to adopt Enterprise 2.0. I also really liked your reference to Kotter's 8 Step Process for Leading Change, it makes a very valid point. Particularly steps 7 & 8 ("don't let up" and "make it stick"), I think they are really relevant here. I think that it's really important when trying to get Enterprise 2.0 off the ground that if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Staff need to be constantly given encouragement to use new tools, otherwise they will just stick with what they know. I think the best encouragement is showing staff how much easier enterprise 2.0 will make their working life. Management need to expect a bit of hesitation from staff at first, and factor this in to their release strategy. Then once they've drummed up a bit of staff support, they need to keep it, there needs to be some sort of maintenance period where the provide continued encouragement for staff to use the new tools.
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Hi candice, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you when you say that the best encouragement is showing staff how much easier enterprise 2.0 will make their working life. I'm sure everyone prefers to keep their job quick and efficient. And as mentioned, consistency and continuous encouragement definitely helps others in the organisation adopt and embrace these social tools. :)

  2. I like how you've highlighted that adoption of enterprise 2.0 can be driven from different levels within an organisation. The approaches describe suggest that building management spport is an important part of the strategy to overcome the barriers of adoption. It sounds like IBM was initiated by management but Scholastic was initiated by employees who built management support through a pilot that demonstrated the benefits and showed the risks weren't that great. Good post!

    1. Hi amanda, good to hear from you. I'm glad you managed to pick up what I was trying to bring forth, which was that adoption barriers arises and can be overcomed in different levels of organisations. :)

  3. Hey Ben , your Kotter's 8 Step Process for Leading Change made a very strong reference to your post this week . And yes , you are right too that sometimes it is the employees who are the one holding back the adoption . Without repeating on what you have mentioned , just wanna make a point - ROI in Enterprise 2.0 can only be realized with more intangible benefits derived , meaning the tangible benefits would not been seen within a short period of time and also may not be too visible .

    1. Yeah, I have to agree that ROI is really important, as without it we will never know if these social media tools really work. And most of the time, these benefits are quite intangible, which makes it tricky to truly measure.