My colleagues Ted Schadler and Josh Bernoff are preparing the launch of their coauthored new book, Empowered, after the success of Josh Bernoff’s Groundswell. Basically, Empowered’s message is: "If you want to succeed with empowered customers, you must empower your employees to solve their problems . . . . From working with many, many companies on social technology projects, we've found that the hard part is not just the strategy. The really hard part is running your organization in such a way that empowered employees can actually use technology to solve customer problems.” (Josh Bernoff, Groundswell blog post).

Coupled with Smart Computing — a new cycle of tech innovation and growth within the technology industry that Andrew Bartels described — this movement toward empowered employees represents what I consider to be Web 3.0: the next generation of Internet/intranet/extranet usage that will benefit the enterprise and employees. By adopting “Web 3.0,” enterprises can expect productivity improvements of 5% to 15% as well as improved customer satisfaction.

Enterprises should prepare themselves to benefit from Web 3.0 by:

  • Allowing employees to have greater autonomy, including the ability to take risks and make mistakes.
  • Encouraging a culture of "kindliness." All social technologies are based on a culture of giving or sharing with others. However, within the enterprise today or even with customers, many individuals are not recognized — or are poorly recognized — when they try to share.
  • Using technology to measure the value of contributions. Measuring value allows organizations to encourage recognition of the people who share a large amount of content or high-quality content.
  • Incenting employees on the "kindliness" aspect of their jobs. To benefit from Web 3.0, organizations need to implement new measures of value that focus on more than just productivity aspects. For example, some enterprises have begun to measure their employees’ engagement with social responsibilities and reflect their level of success within their bonuses.

For some enterprises, these changes represent a huge cultural challenge because many organizations are driven from the top down. For years, orienting around processes has helped some enterprises realize 10% to 20% productivity increases (and in some cases even greater increases). During the same time, some enterprises lost this "entrepreneurial spirit" and the associated values that made them unique when they became huge, global, and only oriented toward financial benefits.

So what does that mean for enterprise architects? If EAs are doing their job correctly, they’re already working to facilitate difficult decisions and will greatly benefit from endorsing this new trend. They’re already using committees, guidelines and principles, documents, and models to solve complex problems; therefore, they should be at the forefront of "empowered" IT employees adopting social technologies to develop their own influence within the enterprise and in an excellent position to help others and the enterprise transform to benefit from Web 3.0 adoption.

Read Empowered, and let me know what concepts you think would apply in your day-to-day EA work or if you already experiment with some of the concepts within your enterprise. I will be working toward publishing upcoming research covering this domain, so each experience you would like to share with us, good or bad, is welcome.