Web 2.0, GTD, Profit and Strategic Innovation
Ask about the benefits of Web 2.0 and most people nod their head.
You and I are probably nodding along with them. Instant access to
information, to people, to availability, to chat, to videos… it’s all great
at helping us find the information we need to get things done.
But what about access to more profit? What? You didn’t keep nodding?
McKinsey published a recent study, really a survey, polling organizations about
their use of Web 2.0 and its benefits. In this article, The rise of the networked
enterprise: Web 2.0 finds its payday, they found widespread reported
benefits from using Web 2.0.
The benefits were clustered around internal efficiency and getting things done,
customer related purposes and working with external partners and vendors.
Increased access to knowledge and decreased cost of communication
were routinely cited as the most common benefits. But the interesting thing to me,
is how many organizations tied Web 2.0 into making more money. Take a
look at one of their charts.
Do you see what’s last on the list in each category?
What 76% – 84% don’t get, don’t see, didn’t experience?
It’s the correlation between Web 2.0 and an increase in revenue, in profit.
And unfortunately, the correlation with innovation is almost as bad.
Wouldn’t you think having better access to knowledge would be
tied more closely to things like revenue and number of new innovations?
Why aren’t they? What’s missing for most organizations who completed
this survey? What’s missing for you and me?
I mean why use all this Web 2.0 cool stuff at work if it doesn’t help you
make more money? Well there might be a number of reasons, and just
because we can’t see a correlation, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. But if
you step outside the box a little, you might even consider that using Web 2.0
could be related to making less money, even being less innovative. I know,
sacrilgious. But hang in here with me for a couple of more thoughts and
one suggestion, before you make up your mind.
I think there’s a very interesting clue about the relationship between
Web 2.0 and profit and innovation. First of all, when it comes to focusing
on what will drive profit, versus what you and I likely do when we come
to work each day, what do we actually focus on each start of the day?
I would bet that you and I don’t naturally or easily know what
will drive profit, create the absolute most value, or any similar
value proposition. In fact I see the following three drivers commonly
shaping our focus and our behavior:
Avoiding Pain – That’s in part why we all check the calendar and email
first thing each morning, we want to avoid missing a meeting or a to-do,
a request from a boss, an embarrassing moment…
The Comfort of Familiar – Much of what we fall into looks suspiciously
like we are engaging in familiar actions, actions that fulfill our job roles,
but perhaps only have a vague tie to profit or innovation, but… get this,
often have a strong tie to communication.
What’s Next – This is the third common driver I see, whether it’s picking
up on unfinished projects from yesterday, or responding to what’s in your
inbox, or going through the paperwork on your desk.
Guess what? Web 2.0, with its increase access to people, to meetings, to
more requests, to more information on what’s getting done by everyone
else, actually seems to add to the distraction capability of the three
drivers listed above. In terms of attention cues, Web 2.0 is like drinking
out of an even bigger fire hose.
So back to that question (remember I promised a suggestion) on what’s
the best thing I can do right now to create the biggest value, the most profit…?
My suggestion is to hang on to that question very tightly. It will serve
you well. Plaster it all over your mind, reference it regularly, not your
inbox. If you’re not sure, use the old fashioned approach of asking your
boss, your colleagues, your customers… what would the answer to that
question looks like from their perspective. Then use Web 2.0 as its
applicable… just a thought.
Web 2.0 tools and capabilities continue to grow and become better
integrated into the work experience. They improve access to knowledge
and information, and reduce the cost of communication, but for the
majority are not tied to improved profit and innovation. When
it comes to profit and innovation, Web 2.0 can actually be a distraction
if not managed well, a distraction from you and I can do to create value…
but then again who asks, “What can I do to create the most value today?”