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UK businesses and workers split on Enterprise 2.0: study

It's not just about using Facebook in the office

By Steve Evans

Inefficient working practices are costing UK companies £900m every week, the equivalent to 30 wasted hours, according to a new survey.

Companies and workers split on Enterprise 2.0

The study, called Enterprise 2.0: Driving creativity, productivity and collaboration, was carried out by research house ICM and commissioned by Oracle. It found that the average worker spends over one hour every week looking for documents stored in email, personal folders or shared directories.

Oracle says that one of the reasons for this wasted time is the amount of applications people are using at work – the average employee uses over five different applications at work on a weekly basis. This lack of a centralised system for storing, accessing and managing documents means workers have to spend time copying and pasting the same information between documents stored in different places.

The vast majority of workers are aware of the problems these inefficient systems are creating, with 96% of respondents saying they are open to the introduction of new technologies to help make their working practices more efficient. Nearly half (40%) social network users say they are easier to use than workplace software – and this is the key message, Oracle believes.

"People are willing to change the way they work if they are supported in using new technologies. Enterprise 2.0 tools incorporating Web 2.0 features such as those found on social networking and collaboration sites could help people to adopt new working practices. Such new, intuitive and user friendly tools could demonstrate real cost savings in terms of business efficiencies," said Andrew Gilboy, vice president director E2.0, Oracle.

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Speaking at a roundtable held to discuss the findings of the research, Gilboy expanded on the idea of Enterprise 2.0. "It’s not simply about using Facebook in the enterprise," he said. "It’s about applying Web 2.0 technologies to legacy enterprise applications such as CRM and ERP and using them to make money for the business. Companies need to share their knowledge, not just from workers but also customers as they often know as much about a company’s products as the company does."

While workers seem to be heavily in favour of embracing Enterprise 2.0 it seems the decision makers themselves are less keen. "The findings highlight that while employees are keen to work with Enterprise 2.0 tools in their everyday activities, businesses are yet to take advantage of this and implement them on a wide scale," said Gilboy.

So why are companies failing to take advantage of this? Security was highlighted at the roundtable event as one potential barrier, as companies will be wary of opening up their company too much, particularly given the recent introduction of fines by the ICO for data breaches.

That will have to change, according to Graham Oakes, principal at consultancy firm Graham Oakes Ltd, as a younger generation more comfortable with Web 2.0 tools moves into the workplace. "Companies will have to change; they have to get away from the idea of security as a fortress. Security is often about people because they will fall for phishing and other attacks despite a firewall. It’s now much more about defending them and the machines," he said at the roundtable.

This viewpoint was backed up by David Terrar, CEO of social media strategists D2C. "The potential damage to reputation is what companies have to watch out for. Saying something negative about your company online is completely different to saying it at the pub with your mates; employees have a megaphone like never before."

"The real opportunity missed by not adopting Enterprise 2.0 is the ‘business productivity’ gains – as opposed to the gains that can be made in personal productivity – and the ability to accelerate business models," concluded Gilboy.

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