Resistance to 2.0 Tech Comes Crashing Down at Cisco


For years after the introduction of the automobile, cars had to fight horses and buggies for space on the road. While some folks couldn't afford cars, I suspect many just stuck to their buggies simply because they were intimidated by the newfangled machines or saw no compelling reason to switch.


Are Web 2.0 technologies experiencing a similar barrier to adoption in the enterprise? That's my theory, which I've written about before. Included in that post were some tips from organizations that have successfully rolled out Web 2.0 tools, including the CIA and Wachovia.


Even tech-savvy companies with strong executive champions may face some initial employee resistance to Web 2.0, as evidenced by IT Business Edge contributor Carl Weinschenk's interview with Patrick Tam, Cisco's senior manager of operations. The interview was part of an excellent four-part series on collaboration.


Cisco's introduction of its ambitious platform, which Tam says includes some 18 Web 2.0 technologies and concepts including RSS feeds, wikis, blogs, social networking and videocasting, wasn't exactly met with cheers from Cisco's employees. Says Tam:

Until people actually tried it and saw the value, it's very challenging. We really focus on training user groups versus users. We really had to ingrain that message to our community.

Executive champions do help, of course. Says Tam:

One of our vice presidents, when it was pitched to the board and received some resistance, said that I will be the first one to sign up and pilot it in my team. He said if we are not doing it, we are at a competitive disadvantage. Our customers are doing this. Even if it is not fully baked, we will learn from that. That call to action and sense of urgency led to the level of adoption we have.

Another thing Cisco seemingly did right, as seen in this post, was to select 2.0 technologies with clear business value. Videoconferencing, for example, helped the company double its sales calls, while slicing costly business travel in half. Collaborative tools like wikis and blogs and a tool called WebEx Connect boosted the company's new product launches.


More cool details of some of these technologies are included in Tam's interview. The wiki, for example, contains an "interactive mind map" that allows users to visually view strategic themes, click into themes that interest them and see a re-rendered version with more specific details on the selected themes as well as links to related initiatives. Says Tam:

You can click in to look at projects and sub-projects. It all gets re-rendered. It's a holistic strategy architecture for people to view.

Taking people out of knowledge silos and putting them into a collaborative environment is especially important for companies like Cisco, that are rapidly expanding their global reach. Says Tam:

Thinking global and acting globally is very key for us. It allows us to continue work as the day ends in California and starts in India. That is a common theme, the change in the way people work and leverage the power of the global work force.