Applying the lessons of Enterprise 2.0 to Gov 2.0

Professor Andrew McAfee on the potential of social software for government

Last year, MIT professor Andrew McAfee published a landmark book on the business use and impact of social software platforms titled Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges. The book is a collection of McAfee’s research since the spring of 2006 when he coined the phrase Enterprise 2.0. Shorthand for enterprise social software, Enterprise 2.0 is the strategic integration of Web 2.0 technologies into an organization’s intranet, extranet, and business processes. Those technologies, including wikis, blogs, prediction markets, social networks, microblogging, and RSS, have in turn been adopted by government agencies, a phenomenon that falls under the mantle of Gov 2.0. As the use of such technology has grown, Congress is now considering the risks and rewards of Web 2.0 for federal agencies.

Gov 2.0 Summit, 2010The insights McAfee has gained from years of research into the use of social software by large organizations have broad application to understanding how and where technology will change government, and it’s the basis for his talk, New Collaborative Tools for Government’s Toughest Challenges, at the Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington D.C. I spoke in detail with Andrew, and anyone interested in understanding how social software is being used in large organizations will find the full half-hour audio interview of great interest.

Below are the questions I asked, and timestamps for the audio of where they start if readers want to jump ahead.


How is Enterprise 2.0 different from Web 2.0? And how does it apply to so-called Government 2.0? What do rules and regulations mean for the growth of social software? What does this mean for open government?
(Answer begins at 4:55)

Does automated filtering hold promise for government or the enterprise to prevent sensitive information from leaking?
(Answer begins at 7:13)

Do reports of exfiltration of data from intelligence agencies mean collaborative software is a risk?
(Answer begins at 8:35)

One of the examples in Enterprise 2.0 is Intellipedia. What lessons does its creation and evolution hold for the intelligence agencies? What about other government entities?
(Answer begins at 9:52)

My interview with Sean Dennehy and Don Burke, the two CIA officers who have spearheaded the Intellipedia effort since its inception, is embedded below:

One of the most interesting parts of the book, for me, was the
discussion of ideation platforms and collective intelligence.
Government agencies are really running with the concept, including the
upcoming launch of Innocentive shows another model. But
does crowdsourcing really work? When, and under what conditions? What
are the lessons from the private sector and academia in that regard?
(Answer begins at 15:00)

You can read more about how game mechanics and crowdsourcing were combined to solve a complex challenge at Professor McAfee’s blog.

What are the most common mistakes in implementations of social
software, or ESSPs as you call them? Specifically, how do you set up effective crowdsourcing platforms?
(Answer begins at 19:10)

What did the MIT “balloon team” that won the DARPA Network Challenge do right?
(Answer begins at 21:09)

What challenges – and opportunities does the incoming millennial workforce hold for government and business with respect to IT? What does research show about how boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials interact, collaborate and work? Are there some myths to bust with respect to entrepreneurship and innovation?
(Answer begins at 23:29)

What are the cultural issues around adoption of Enterprise 2.0 and Gov 2.0?
(Answer begins at 27:07)

What does your new research on the strategic implementation of IT in large enterprises show to date? Why does government lag the private sector in this area, in the so-called “IT gap?” What could be done about it?
(Answer begins at 30:03)

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