Web 2.0 is a Major Organizational Change Accelerator

Yes that’s right. And if you don’t know what Web 2.0 (*) means this is your wake-up call. Last week McKinsey Quarterly published its global survey results on the use of Web 2.0 tools and technologies.

Four important observations come to the surface and all four of them are extremely important in the face of organizational change management.

#1: The top-4 reasons to use Web 2.0 technologies are at the core of Organizational Change

Mckinsey reports about 17 reasons why organizations use Web 2.0 technologies. The first four reasons are the following:

– Managing Knowledge
– Fostering collaboration across company
– Enhancing company culture
– Training

This top four roughly contains more than half of the objectives that we want to achieve with organizational change management.

#2: Web 2.0 changes the way a company is managed and organized

McKinsey asked the respondents to score their satisfaction with Web 2.0 tools and asked whether it changed something in their organization. Among the respondents with a high level of satisfaction the most significant changes that were noted are:

– It has created major new roles or functions in our organization
– It has changed the way our organization is structured

People who are familiar with ERP implementations such as SAP, Oracle or Peoplesoft will note that the level of change reported by these respondents is largely the same as what they have experienced once the ERP is in place. That is exactly why I always declare a company’s intranet as the backbone of communication during an ERP implementation. Through Web 2.0 technologies one can manage the tremendous requirements for collaboration that are necessary during the project lifecycle.

#3: The bottleneck is at the TOP!

In the same survey, McKinsey asked “What are the top three barriers, if any, to the further success of your web 2.0 tools?”  The way I see it, the responses are sadly – but not surprisingly – pointing out a gap between older generations at the top and younger generations in the middle and lower rankings of today’s organizations. Here is the top three of all answers:

– My company doesn’t understand the potential financial return from the use of Web 2.0 tools, technologies
– My company’s culture doesn’t encourage the use of Web 2.0
– My company doesn’t provide sufficient incentives to adopt or experiment with Web 2.0 technologies

It is no secret that the bottleneck is always at the top of the bottle and in this case – just like ERP implementations – leaders at the top need a nudge.

#4: Web 2.0 is a business initiative, not an IT initiative

I saved the best part for the last: McKinsey also asked how organizations have deployed their Web 2.0 initiatives. According to the results, satisfied respondents say that, in large measure, business units rather than IT departments are driving the selection of Web 2.0 technologies. Dissatisfied respondents report the reverse: IT units take the lead, choosing the tools and then delivering them to business.

Here as well, the parallel with ERP implementations is pretty clear: a devastating effect if IT takes the lead. Just like ERP implementations, Web 2.0 initiatives should be owned by the business in order to be successful.

If all this terminology sounds weird and far-fetched to you, just remember: Web 2.0 may be a buzzword for now but it surely is the best way to support your organizational change initiatives now and in the future.

(*) Web 2.0 refers to all web-applications and technologies such as wikis, blogs, social-networking, open-source, open-content, file-sharing, peer-production, etc. All of these applications and technologies thrive on  user created data, an architecture of participation and high usability. In their book Wikinomics, Tapscott and Williams argue that the economy of “the new web” depends on this kind of mass collaboration.