Andrea DiMaio

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Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
15 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Andrea Di Maio is a managing vice president for public sector in Gartner Research, covering government and education. His personal research focus is on digital government strategies strategies, Web 2.0, open government, cloud computing, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio

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Turning Government 2.0 Into Enterprise 2.0: Take A Deep Breath First

by Andrea Di Maio  |  August 12, 2009  |  5 Comments

I had an inquiry with a client who is trying to strike the right balance between what she believes is suboptimal web content management (and related governance structure) and the demand to provide an enterprise solution for some of the social media (primarily wikis, but also blogs) that have been quite successful to support collaboration both within her government organization and with others too.

This looks like a typical case where some of the IT folks (and possibly part of the business) wants an enterprise solution to rely on. It appears that social media have proven their case and it is time to proceed with an organization-wide solution, to be supported and managed in conjunction with web content management.

It is clear that what they should aim at in the long run is a comprehensive enterprise information management program, where internal and external portal, social media and other content is looked at and government as a coherent sets of assets. However now they have more pressing needs and probably not enough data points to make a solid business case for a particular version of an enterprise solution for their current “government 2.0” needs.

I asked the client to go through the history of their portal over the last few years, and like many they have strived to model their external portal according to the life event model and, like many, have been somewhat disappointed finding out that users get to information and services through Google and other search engines, and do not expect, nor do really care about the life event view.

So my point is this. Even with e-government 1.0 the case for a life event model was not proven, but that model was pursued because it looked like a best practice. I always wonder who came up with that idea, as we have been saying for a long time that it would not really work (see previous post), but few would listen to us.

Now, we may be facing the same mistake. Social software is cool, is the flavor of the year, and we have seen that working in a few cases. Are we sure we can draw general lessons from those cases? Do we have sufficient evidence that those successes are sustainable and would be replicated through a centrally-governed, enterprise solution?

In the case of this client, I suggested to take a deep breath and look at where are the highest priorities, as they are likely to be on fixing basic web content management rather than taking other stuff on board. I bet there are quite a few government organizations in the same situation, pressured by enterprise architects, vendors and consultants to swallow more social software in an enterprise 2.0 approach. Will they take a deep breath too?

5 Comments »

Category: social networks in government     Tags: ,

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 PaulGeraghty   August 13, 2009 at 6:22 am

    You take an interesting point of view, but I fail to grasp the comparisons between where we are now and the life-event model, which was obvious to me when I spotted it that it was just an connived use-case.

    If you alter your view slightly and take wikis, blogs and fora as merely “front-end patterns” to capture and create web-content then what they want to do might make more sense.

    As the web of docs evolves through the web of people and the web of data, CMSs will need to become less the “keeper of repository of the things” and more like the “governor of the streams of knowledge”.

    The tools for these changes may not to exist in their armouries, but do favour OS participants.

    Paul

  • 2 Mark Heseltine   August 13, 2009 at 7:36 am

    I suspect it’s fallacy to separate “social media” from “content management”.

    Social Media *is* content management – albeit a crowd-sourced approach to content. This is especially so for wikis, because everyone edits and views the same documents. It also applies to content that might be dispersed or unstructured where we would normally want it to be centralised and ordered.

    One of the problems in large organisations is that information gets stale and becomes untrusted. Social media tools can help to facilitate keeping it up to date and building of trust.

  • 3 Andrea Di Maio   August 13, 2009 at 9:47 am

    @Paul: The analogy with the sigle portal, life-even-model, is that at the time people felt it was necessary to develop an enterprise solution that turned out to be less successful than expected. Today, conversations are about finding enterprise solutions (which do not mean only technology, but also governance processes) that are centralized and apply to all departments and agencies, although we do not know yet how social media will be used enterprise-wide.

    @Mark: Indeed, social media is part of content. The asymptote is – of course – enterprise information management. But, again, how many have gained much from “Enterprise Content Management”? In how many cases complex ECM suites have remained underutilized and – today – happen to be a constraint more than an enabler for government 2.0

  • 4 links for 2009-08-13 « Policy and Performance   August 13, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    [...] Turning Government 2.0 Into Enterprise 2.0: Take A Deep Breath First Interesting reflection point…and a link back to a previous post on data and life-event models with relevance to current Tell Me Once efforts. (tags: web2.0 gov2.0 enterprise2.0 asset.management knowledge.management) [...]

  • 5 Paul Nash   August 14, 2009 at 9:56 am

    There are three issues here:

    1. The point about life event models for Government websites is well made but while it should act as an amber light before adopting web 2.0 approaches it shouldn’t turn red just yet.

    2, Content Management is what gives life to the web site and should be the priority for getting messages out. This is as much about internal processes as it is about communication and good content management will ensure consistency, accuracy and interesting and changing messages.

    3. Web 2.0 should be about dialogue and I don’t see why the department should “own” all of the solution. How do they listen to the messages? How do they respond? How do the incomming communications get handled in house?

    The problem is that nobody likes to receive bad news so the hierarchical organisation focusses on messages out; nothing comes in and nothing gets fed up the chain. Web 2.0 challenges that mentality and the natural response is to control the channel. Of course, nobody wants to communicate what they really feel through an official channel. In fact being heard is what empowers voice and an empowered voice is a constructive tool.