CEO’s Survival Guide to Socialism 2.0

By Pehong Chen CEO on May 24, 2010

Just when we all thought that socialism has been swept away by capitalism in every respect — even its shadows long buried alongside the bodies of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Chairman Mao — recently reincarnated as Socialism 2.0, it has been mounting an impressive comeback with a vengeance, in cyberspace

A whole host of consumer social media (CSM) have become the hottest Web destinations in the past few years.  Facebook now boasts nearly 500 million registered users — propelling it to become the 3rd most populous “nation” in the world, next to China and India.  As we watch our kids exchanging their Facebook contacts with each other, as opposed to our “old school” email addresses that my generation has grown accustomed to do, plus the non-stop daily bombardment of various CSM invites — be it Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn — we begin to appreciate CSM’s compelling “long tail” effect and the true power of the “networked economy”.

If you are a C-level executive in a company of any size and do not recognize that a new revolution called Enterprise 2.0 is right around the corner, caused by the same Socialism 2.0 forces sweeping through cyberspace, you need to wake up and take some action immediately.  It is now 10 years after the original Internet bubble, and as all of us have grown older and wiser, this time we all feel, with a much higher degree of confidence, that it’s for real.

What does Socialism 2.0 mean for the enterprise?  What can a company expect when committed to enterprise social networks (ESN)?

I believe ESN will have as profound an impact on how business is done for this decade and beyond as desktop publishing did since the 1980s.  The reason is simple.  Having automated just about everything that can be “proceduralized” in business over the past 30+ years, what is left for the enterprise to address are issues all around the edges — interrupts, exceptions, corporate culture, employee morale, customer satisfaction, public perception, etc..  All such business processes, if there ever were one, share some common traits — random, ad-hoc, tacit, distributed, diverse, etc.  In short, these are age-old people collaboration issues.

People collaboration issues are N2 issues, where N is the number of people populated across and beyond an enterprise.  In Enterprise 1.0, we either ignored these issues, pretending as if they never existed, or tried to solve it with either an O(K) (constant), or at best, an O(N) (order of N; i.e.,  “linear”) procedure.  This typically wound up being a complicated and expensive enterprise application designed to be operated by only a small number of highly trained professionals, with the rest of the people simply being passive onlookers.

Web 1.0 is no exception.  For the past 10+ years, we’ve spent huge sums of time and money building web sites and portals, be they inside or outside facing.  Yet, most of them are rarely utilized by the people we intend to serve.  Why?  It’s the same onlooker attitude — most of us feel that those are the company’s business; not my business.

Enterprises can change all that with Clearvale, which empowers everyone to take on the responsibility of running the business via ESNs of any size, and in doing so, becoming more accountable to each other and to the company.  This way, you get an O(N2) solution for people collaboration that’s geometrically scalable in nature.  Bottom line: in Clearvale, setting up and operating ESNs to collaborate work is DIY (do-it-yourself), as easily as creating files, sending emails, and desktop publishing.

However, putting technical barrier and IT cost to bed is only part of the equation.  In ESN adoption, the bigger challenge tends to be cultural — it’s about a management paradigm shift, in every true sense of these words.  If you are not committed to doing the “people business” differently, you will not be able to harvest the huge upside potential afforded to you through the power of N2.

Last year, after 9 months into our own Enterprise 2.0 transformation, I wrote a white paper entitled “Socializing Across the Enterprise — Seven Habits for ESN Adoption” (or SATE for short) to highlight this cultural shift and all the lessons and best practices we learned from that experience.  We are still going strong in continuing that journey.

As we formally commence the Clearvale global launch, I thought I’d start a new blog topic on the vision behind Clearvale, under the working title of “CEO’s Survival Guide to Socialism 2.0”.  Consider this as a sequel to SATE, focusing on some of the higher level goals and the ROI model by which these goals can be measured.  We are obviously interested in encouraging everyone to immigrate into Clearvale so that their businesses can thrive, but we want to do it not by “gut feeling” or “blind trust”, but with eyes wide open — use cases, best practices, key performance indices, and ROI dashboard.

I will start by laying some groundwork for your ESN goals.  First and foremost: the 80-20 rule.  Since nothing is 100% black-and-white, we could and should target a reversal from 80-20 to 20-80 in favor of some key areas of improvements.  In the table below, we’ve listed 10 key such dimensions, from IT infrastructure to management philosophy across your entire enterprise, and how you should endeavor to make the change.  I will expand on each of these in future blogs, together with my thoughts on how they could be measured for ROI, to convince you that not only do you need to do it now, most importantly, you need to immigrate and settle into Clearvale, for it’s the most cost-effective way, and place, to get it done.

Before we close on this blog, let me just say that ROI can typically be measured along three axes — cost efficiency, incremental business, and innovation velocity.  With Clearvale, we’ve been able to observe all three in a very short period time.  It’s truly cool stuff.  So stay tuned!

Enterprise 1.0

Enterprise 2.0

80%

20%

20%

80%

1. Infrastructure

On-premise

Cloud

On-premise

Cloud

2. Applications

Core

Edge

Core

Edge

3. Processes

Structured

Ad-hoc

Structured

Ad-hoc

4. Networking

CSM

ESN

CSM

ESN

5. Communication

Need-to-know

Need-to-share

Need-to-know

Need-to-share

6. Cyberspace
(website)

Build it;
they’ll come.

Let them come;
it’ll get built.

Build it;
they’ll come.

Let them come;
it’ll get built.

7. Governance

Centralized

Distributed

Centralized

Distributed

8. Management

Push

Pull

Push

Pull

9. Knowledge

Stocks

Flows

Stocks

Flows

10. Goal

Remove friction

Forge fusion

Remove friction

Forge fusion

Performance

O(K) / O(N)

O(N2)

O(K) / O(N)

O(N2)