I was fortunate to be able to participate as a panelist at the Emerging Technologies breakfast at the SLA conference in Denver in June. My part of the program was to present on Enterprise 2.0. I have often seen knowledge management (KM) in law firms as a glass half-empty endeavor but with Enterprise 2.0, there may just be a chance that KM can be successful.
Enterprise 2.0 is the implementation of Web 2.0 technologies and initiatives within the organization. Andrew McAfee (professor at Harvard who first used Enterprise 2.0 as a concept) defines Web 2.0 as the “digital platforms for generating, sharing and refining information”.
McAfee defines Enterprise 2.0 as “Platforms that companies can buy or build in order to make visible the practices and outputs of their knowledge workers”. It could also be said that Enterprise 2.0 takes Web 2.0 a step further using the same digital platforms for generating, sharing and refining knowledge. The digital platforms are wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, social networking, instant messaging, portals, mashups, and other Web-based collaborative applications.
The attached slides describes both along with a discussion of McAfee’s model for Enterprise 2.0 called SLATES. It also includes some examples of the use of Enterprise 2.0 in law firms.
Of course, whether organizations benefit from all this is doubted by some, including a recent debate by Andrew McAfee and Tom Davenport prior to the Enterprise 2.0 Conference held in June 2007 in Boston. View an on-demand version of the debate. In a posting on his blog, McAfee states that he sees the difference in their thinking in that he has addressed the topic as if it is something new and Davenport sees the technology mentioned as having been around for some time. I agree, the technology isn’t new but putting the various apps together in one package puts a new spin on how to engage users.
I may be a bit naive in believing the following but I think we will see a change in the willingness of lawyers to actually participate in KM initiatives. Lawyers graduating from law school today are experienced in using the digital platforms described in this slideshow. They are also part of a culture that believes in end-user content generation and sharing. Unless law school and first year at a law firm changes them profoundly, they will be looking for this type of technologies to use with their practices.
That leaves my glass half-full. I’d love to hear what you think.