Web 2.0 – Beyond the Hype

On December 3 the Ontario Chapter of the CIO Association of Canada hosted an event and social under the title “Web 2.0, Collaboration, and Social Media: Beyond the Hype”. The event was aimed to be an intimate gathering of peers (attendance was limited to 25) listening to practitioners and discussing the subject among themselves away from vendor and media hype.

I was invited by Samantha Liscio, CIO of Government of Ontario’s CAC to participate in a speaker panel she organized and tasked with framing the subject and providing the basis for the conversation. My colleagues on the panel were: Kyle Reid, CEO of Deep Caliber; Bobby Singh, Director of Information Security at eHealth Ontario and John Sutherland, President of Ennova Inc. The panel was facilitated by Craig Ballance, Director of the IT Leadership Program at Ryerson University.

Discussion topics included:

  • How Web 2.0 and social media tools have successfully delivered on business goals
  • Key lessons learned from real implementations (the reality behind the hype)
  • What some unanticipated outcomes of the implementation of Web 2.0 and social media have been (pitfalls to avoid)
  • Why it’s important to CIO success (moving from ‘hype’ to ‘value’)
  • What constitutes success in the practical application of Web 2.0, Collaboration and Social Media
  • What to watch for in the next waves of implementation

For me the main insight is that web 2.0 is much more about organizational change than about marketing and sales. The social aspect of new media and more importantly the increasingly social production of content and knowledge, all imply engagement of participants and active conversations. True conversations require not only active listening but also a readiness to change your position based on the conversation. Not many organizations are ready for such commitment, and of those who would like to be many don’t know how to adapt their policies, protocols and culture accordingly. Preparing an organization for the collaborative modes of operation needed to thrive in the new economy will require therefore significant changes to the organizational structure and culture before such engagements can yield any significant result.

There was a discussion about how to introduce web 2.0 technology and applications to the C-level executives to win their buy-in. colleagues pointed out that it is perhaps not different from winning support for any major project. In my experience spending an hour of quality time with the CEO on a well prepared demo of such applications could work wonders.

The discussion also touched on the risks of web 2.0 deployments as well as on risks to organizations that are ill prepared to engage in the conversations about them taking place with or without their approval. Many examples were discussed.

All in all it was a great way to spend a pleasant evening with peers, network, and learn about our profession and business in thoughtful conversation.

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