My wife might not agree, but I think I am pretty much a glass-half-full kind of guy. So it's odd the way recent enterprise software research released by the promoters of the Enterprise 2.0 conference to be held June 22-25 in Boston struck me.
The research -- the methodology and statistical accuracy of which I know nothing -- says almost all enterprises are using IM, wikis and the like inside their companies to collaborate, but it implies that most adoption is departmental rather than enterprise-wide. That makes sense; Enterprise 2.0 is Office Automation (OA) redux and that's the pattern by which OA was adopted 20 years ago. Early proprietary OA systems such as Data General's CEO, Digital's All-in-One, WangOffice and IBM Profs were adopted slowly over the entire decade of the '80s and then just as slowly replaced by Notes and Office. Learning from some of the not-invented-here problems of their systems-supplier-dependent predecessors, Notes and Office are aggressively adding Enterprise 2.0 features less someone (Google?) replace them.
But the factoid that hit me in the conference promoter's press release was as follows:
"The number-one barrier to adopting Enterprise 2.0 is cultural: resistance to change (53%). Other challenges include difficulty in measuring ROI (43%), integrating with existing technologies (37%), and security concerns (31%).
I picked up on it because I think that statement probably applies to all enterprise software technology adoption, but I had never seen it spelled out that way before. I don't think I have ever done or been asked to do any research asking that fundamental question. This means two things at least: I am inherently not as curious as I should be, and my clients don't want to know the answer to the question.
Actually in marketing CEO at DG, we worked very hard (with the late Michael Hammer, for example) to predict ROI and to integrated with existing technologies such as then-popular WordPerfect word processing product. But hindsight tells us we should have been working just as hard to integrated with then market-leading Wang word processors. And we were never able to overcome the cultural aversion to calendaring, which took away many of the integration benefits the developers had worked hard to program in. Calendaring worked great but who to hell wants the boss to know where he or she is every minute?
The problem was not in you, IT users, "but in ourselves," the suppliers (apologies to Shakespeare) for not really figuring out what the IT community wanted at a cultural rather than technical level.