eRoom created a mess. Was it the software or IT?


I came across a post by an individual sharing their story of how they made a mess with eRoom.  He talked of communities and openness and how eRoom prevented that — creating a “debacle”.   My response to his blog post was that I agreed and disagreed.  And I’d like to elaborate on that….

eRoom is a business tool like anything else.  If you don’t use the tool the right way, or educate users on how to use the tool the right way…then you just might make a mess.   I’ve seen some great uses of eRoom and in other cases, it was just a place to dump files. 

I’d argue the problem was in the way this organization deployed and managed eRoom.  The IT was not CLOSE enough to the business to understand exactly how people were using the tool and educating them on how they should be using the tool.   eRoom is not a tool for building open communities within or outside an organization and is not about love, peace, and the 1960s.   I “heart” eRoom was just not part of the marketing strategy from what I remember.   eRoom is a tool for secure workgroup and team collaboration!!!   Plain and simple.

Yes, people want communities and openness to share knowledge and connect and locate expertise….all that great web 2.0 stuff.   And we’ve seen a new set of tools to help address that.  However, the demand for eRoom grew because customers wanted to put content on their extranet and securely work with suppliers, partners, clients, contractors, and everyone in their extended enterprise.  

The point here is that you need to think about CONTEXT before you rollout this type of technology and make it too CONVENIENT for people to start creating messes in.   What’s the business focus?  Who is using it?  Why?  How do they want to use it?    Synchronously?  Asynchronously?  Are the users on the road alot?   What is the business context? 

Now I’m not opposed to openness and community.  However, you also need secure collaboration for projects, client work, product development, mergers & acquistions, etc….  And as much as the 20th century command-control organization might be slanting towards openness and community — I have to point to Tom Davenport (one of the foremost thought leaders for years on all this knowledge stuff) who believes that companies compete an analytics.   And my take on that is as follows — you need to take those analytics and provide visibility, transparency, measurability, and accountability to managers and partners and customers — IN A SECURE collaborative context to protect the single most important competitive advantage that companies have in this copy cat world we live in.   And that is what eRoom is best at — both inside a company and outside.  

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