Toward Enterprise 2.0 with Cécile Demailly

cecile demailly
Early Strategies has just released a fresh an extremely useful report on Enterprise 2.0 and the current level of adoption.

This international (FR, UK, NE, US) survey (summary) was conducted between November 2009 and January 2010, targeting Multinational Companies (MNCs) and international organizations (France-Telecom, Cisco, AT&T, Amadeus, IBM etc …). The clear intent was to study change execution.

This report sheds a bright light using real life examples on favorite topics of the Enterprise 2.0 Activists community : cultural values, strategic reasons, change agents, executive champions, management inducements etc …

This analysis is precise enough to distinguish different results depending on the type of company business (B2B, B2C). It’s pretty interesting to see the consequences this difference creates in companies adoption strategy.

The results and conclusion on strategy, maturity, change, policy but also on people daily work and perceived usefulness have priceless value for anyone wishing to embrace the subject of Emergent Social Software Platforms (ESSP) adoption.

Last but not least, the report addresses the ROI issue, the one most E20 activists are the least comfortable with – Andrew McAfee included. Early Strategies approach differs as it distinguishes tangible from intangible ROI. thus provides a completely different perspective on the whole thing.

Together with McKinsey’s and Cisco, probably the most insightful report on the topic I’ve read so far.

Hypertextual has been lucky enough to have the opportunity of an interview with the person behind Early Strategies : Cecile Démailly. Impressive professional background, real enthusiasm and insight on the ESSP topic, and a charming person : Hypertextual readers deserve no less …(Note, I’ve bolded+italicize most interesting and valuable parts- there are quite a few).


1. Hello Cécile. Could you please introduce yourself to the readers ?

I am an old GenX (or a very young baby boomer), interested in the future but probably with an eclectic approach, green (except for stairs when on high heels), mother of GenYs (they bind my understanding of new trends, among other things, and keep me modest). More seriously, I have long been a corporate person in high tech blue chips (IBM, AT&T and GE) before I started my own consulting business. I worked internationally, mainly in product management and executive jobs, and this helps me today to grasp organizational change challenges. I do change consulting and research for MNCs.

2. Tell us a few words on this “Toward Enterprise 2.0” Report. Why did you start this project in the first place ? What were the questions you wanted to answer  ?

Enterprise 2.0 is a fascinating change. Imagine it has roots as far as the theory of social capital a century ago!  And everything is accelerating by the magic of the technology. It happens fast and in a disruptive way. The adoption grows quickly and the research we did a year ago needed a deepening. I saw a need for more collaboration between IT, HR, Communications and other departments to lead the change, continuous discussions about ROI, and pervasive questions on where to start, what to address, how to make it successful.  I wanted to find out what is happening around these topics in leading organizations.

3. Some people recommend to have different collaborative platforms within the same company, some other a single one. What is your recommendation? Don’t we lose some centralization benefits when multiplying the platforms?

Certainly you lose power and benefits when you don’t integrate the tools, and using a single platform is theoretically the cleanest and less expensive way to get them integrated. Now, the reality is more complex: you have to deal with legacy systems and you can hardly wipe out initiatives that started locally, even more when they are successful and helped you justify the need to transform the organization. Plus it might happen that no single platform responds to your priorities. Each case is different and needs thinking.

4 . Towers Perrin has just released a great study about people engagement in the company. This study shows that 40% of the workforce feels disengaged. Do you think E20 can help in improving workforce engagement ? How ? Have you witnessed engagement improvement with ESSP during your study ?

It certainly can, when it is not imposed. I won’t go into a long dissertation on what can engage workforce, but it is not the Enterprise 2.0 in itself. Again, the corporate vision is key here, if it fuels spirit and passion, and if the workforce in convinced their participation will do good, they will engage. Well being, a sense of fairness, organization’s ethics are other components among many. Enterprise 2.0 offers a way to participate to something – that ‘something’ will foster engagement. I have to say that often the satisfaction about Enterprise 2.0 surveyed is bound to the workforce engagement. Both are interlinked.

5. Many middle managers feel uncomfortable with ESSPs and you report tends to confirm that. Do you think their jobs and type of activity is at stake with the advent of the E20 ? How can E20 project manager/sponsor can help in having manager less reluctant for adoption ?

Most often, companies focus on cultivating employee adoption, rather than management, not to say middle management; and HR is not often enough associated to the transformation effort from the beginning. The Enterprise 2.0 has an impact on the organizational structure, mainly because information flows differently. Managers need to put new shoes on, and HR needs to help them do that, redefine the role of management, and get them comfortable in their new role. How ? My advice is to use collaboration and collective thinking, and “kill 2 birds with 1 stone” : set up a think tank, or a task force, a workout, or whatever works for your organization, gather a maximum of volunteers from the target population, i.e. the middle managers, introduce them to the concepts, and let them define their own future. Ideally introduce them to the tools before the thinking work happens: that is called building awareness.

6. In the introduction, you mention that transformation toward E20 must support strategic vision. One could ask how a platform of collaborative tools that may help overall company strategy  ?

Your organization and the stakeholders around (customers, partners, suppliers, etc.) form an ecosystem. How your ecosystem will live, grow, change, depends on 1/your strategic vision and 2/how you nurture it. Enterprise 2.0 is a way to nurture the ecosystem better – it is not a goal or an end as such, it is a mean. Organizations don’t adopt Enterprise 2.0 because this is ‘in the air’; they adopt Enterprise 2.0 because it will help their future. And the way they will implement it, the content they will focus on, needs to serve their vision.

7. From all the studies you made with all types of organization, is there any standard anti-e20-persona that emerge ? Any over-enthusiastic-e20-supporter persona?

Not really an anti-E2.0 persona, there are rather a set of common resistances that slow down adoption: fear of visibility, where to find the time for it/rebalance workload, understanding how it relates to the daily job, just to mention a few.  Those resistances disappear as awareness grows, whether it is common global awareness or individual one (trough learning and practice).  Regarding E2.0 supporters, I did meet a few different: some knowledge managers, networkers who are also techno-addicts, often communications team members. These are gems, when they are open minded enough to accept that others may not be at the same stage of understanding, and when they find ways to help late adopters.

8. Who would you think is the best C-Level sponsor for an Enterprise 2.0 project ? CEO ? Head of HR ? COO ? CIO ?

Good question, and there is no one response that fits all – it is linked to the organization’s structure and the executives’ personality. The survey reported that most often, the CEO is the executive champion or among them. It also reported that in 20% of the cases, no executive champion is known. What is sure is that it works better when one or more sponsor(s) personify the transformation effort, at least in the early stages: considering the change, piloting, and starting to deploy. Like for any change. Who is the best? Try answer these questions: is there a visionary, where is it important to center the Enterprise 2.0, who is convinced, who will be listened on this subject?

9. Some people wonder where they should start with E2.0 : with internal solutions or external solutions (with partners, customers etc …). What would you recommend?

Again, each case is different. It needs some thinking and, as mentioned above, it needs to be linked to the vision. Marketing teams in strong consumer brands may want to start ahead; though most of the time it is rather centered internally and external initiatives that may exist in parallel join gradually.

Sometime we see a dichotomy between the internal and the external realizations. Ideally there should not be. Of course the organization boundaries will continue to exist, and some content will not flow externally. There should be bridges. It usually happens when Enterprise 2.0 becomes mature, not at the beginning of the deployment.

10. My 9 years old boy keeps on asking me what I’m blogging about. I’m not comfortable with the E20 explanation to him. What would you reply in a simple sentence ?

Aha. Make the most of it, questions are fun until kids think they know better than you. How about: “I’m trying to better understand how it will be when you will start working”.

Thanks you very much Cécile.


  1. Hi Cècile,
    the research seems to be very promising.

    I had a look at the summary from Early Strategies site but is there a real executive summary with the main messages you learned from the research?

    I wanted to blog those messages in italian.


  2. Hi Emmanuele,

    I am Cecil and I’ve interviewed Cécile. My 2 cents : you can get the best executive summary buying the report. It’s worth ervery penny.

    The summary is already good but to benefit from the full insight of the survey, the best is to have the whole picture.


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