Monday, January 11, 2010

Smarter Planet

Despite what @wendytarr says, whether we are ready for IBM's Smarter Planet (whoever "we" might be) is not about people's readiness to embrace the technology. As a lot of people have been saying lately, including on IBM-sponsored websites, readiness and resistance is not about people trusting the technology but about people trusting one other.

  • "Are you willing to accept uncensored comments that might be contrary to your organization’s point of view or that threaten the status quo?" [Heather Clancy: Your company may not be ready for social media (Smart Planet, Jan 2010)]
  • "IBM can only go so far in convincing people that Smarter Planet systems are not only beneficial but trustworthy. After that, we have to trust the people behind the systems." [John Webster, Are we ready for IBM's Smarter Planet? (cnet news, Jan 2010)]
  • "Attempting to introduce open and frank communications and interaction into a fairly rigid command-and-control corporate environment may result in dashed expectations and a frustrating, counter-productive experience." [Joe McKendrick, Can an organization not be ‘ready’ for Enterprise 2.0? (Fast Forward, Jan 2010)]
  • "If you don’t have a supportive culture, it’s nearly impossible to find real success with any social tools (beyond small scale deployments — which may be very successful for your team, but not at the enterprise level.)" [Gil Yehuda, Enterprise 2.0 initiatives and corporate culture awareness (Jan 2010)]

Webster tells us how IBM has always swung between between trying to sell the technology (for example computers) and trying to sell the business systems that use the technology (for example, the benefits of computing) - and how IBM has always been more commercially successful when doing the latter. So it's not about the technology, it's about smarter systems of systems.

Even within a single organization, trust between people and departments is (sadly) the exception rather than the rule. See Jack Vinson's post They are making us do it, in response to my post Why New Systems Don't Work. One of the things Jack mentions is that "people tend to focus on the software, even if that isn't the primary driver behind the change". Even within IBM, then, there may be people who suffer from this fallacy.

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