Fact: According to the latest McKinsey Global Survey report, “Building the Web 2.0 Enterprise,” many companies find themselves actually changing organizationally, both internally and externally, as a result of adopting Web 2.0 tools and practices.
Analysis: While you need to register to read the complete article, Dion Hinchcliffe’s Social Computing Magazine has a helpful review, “McKinsey Releases 2nd Survey on Web 2.0 in Business,” which notes that as companies mature from experimentation to broader integrated deployment, their enterprise character sometimes morphs. As Social Computing’s Raj Sheelvant recounts:
26 percent of the executives surveyed report that Web 2.0 tools have changed interactions with customers and suppliers, while 33 percent say these technologies have created new roles or functions inside the organization. A third of the satisfied respondents even feel that Web tools are changing its structure. Companies are using Web 2.0 tools more extensively for interactions with their customers, suppliers, and outside experts… In addition, they are forming networks outside their corporate walls.”
The centrifugal force of collaboration is potentially very powerful – and very disruptive to formerly closed and hardwired organizations. The national security community (DoD, intelligence agencies, FBI, DHS, etc.) is of course famous for being closed and hardwired. Enterprise security inside their firewalls takes on a whole new meaning, as I learned and practiced while there for a few years. So the prospect of disruptive openings to the outside has of course been controversial – but enticing nevertheless, for agency directors and uniformed general officers as much as for the regular knowledge workers who’ve suffered inside stovepipes for decades.
Risk management can protect classified data appropriately and still allow these new disruptive practices to flourish in the community. “Forming networks outside the walls” of an intelligence agency sounds terrible if you’re thinking incoming espionage or trojans, but great if you’re talking about CIA analysts reading NSA databases, FBI agents chatting in realtime with DHS watch officers, or Coast Guard vessels being tipped off by automated alerts to relevant new NGA imagery.
The controversy lessens with each progressive step. To help matters along, Bob Gourley, formerly of DIA fame and now running CTO Vision, has just published a solid article in Social Computing Magazine entitled “Social Media and the National Security Professional.” Great basic advice for those in-the-community who may not be aware of how to take full advantage of new tools and approaches like blogging, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Crazy guy that he is, Bob uses me for comic instruction fodder for your visit to his Twitter account:
“If you desire to “follow” me on Twitter all you have to do is sign up for a Twitter account and click the “follow” button. Then you can read those micro posts whenever they are made. You can also find other national security professionals to follow on Twitter, and they will be able to find you as well.”
“For example, from my page, look for the graphic that shows Lewis Shepherd and click on his head. You will see his Twitter site. Or if you don’t remember what Lewis looks like can click on the list of people I follow and find him there. Following feeds like this will keep you informed of key meetings, conferences and events and of course blog posts.”
My headache aside, Bob’s summary point is right on: “a key benefit of Social Media for national security planners is to accelerate good ideas, whether they be good ideas for policy or good ideas for technology.” He outlines several actual scenarios of the combinatorial power of matricing “crowds, random individuals, fields of experts or trusted friends” together as sources of real-time information.
At some point, we’ll also begin to see internal evidence within IC agencies and DoD bureaucracies of the kinds of organizational reform and change which are becoming apparent in the Enterprise 2.0 private sector. What will those changes look like, and how will they mesh with the continuing constraints of collecting and managing top secret, compartmentalized information?
One safe prediction: it won’t look like the bureaucratically-focused upheavals creakily designed in the original post-9/11 reforms. Changes will likely develop organically from grassroots collaboratively-adopted business practices. They’ll almost certainly be more subtle, but more significant, than diktats from above.
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