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?