Tony Karrer's eLearning Blog on e-Learning Trends eLearning 2.0 Personal Learning Informal Learning eLearning Design Authoring Tools Rapid e-Learning Tools Blended e-Learning e-Learning Tools Learning Management Systems (LMS) e-Learning ROI and Metrics

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Enterprise 2.0 - What's the PU?

I've been reading with interest the recent writing on blogs around Andrew McAfee's article in the new issue of the MIT Sloan Management Review, "Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration." Some of the discussions can be found at:
The basic point of the article is that Blogs, Wikis, RSS, tags, etc. - basically Web 2.0 tools - is going to:
supplant other communication and knowledge management systems with their superior ability to capture tacit knowledge, best practices and relevant experiences from throughout a company and make them readily available to more users.
The discssion that has followed asks the really important question:
Will these tools really be adopted or is this going to be similar to other Knowledge Management efforts with lots of hype and poor results?

There is a fair amount of research on technology adoption and I think we can also draw upon personal experience and what it tells us is that there is a basic formula at work:
Adoption Rate = Perceived Usefulness (PU) * Perceive Ease of Use (PEOU)
PU is “the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would enhance his or her job performance” – software that is perceived to be useful gets adopted at higher rates.

PEOU as “the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would be free from effort” – software that appears easy to use gets adopted at higher rates.

One of the reasons that there is great excitement around these new technologies is they definitely are easy to use (have a high PEOU). In fact, once most people have experienced the tools, I would claim that their perception of ease of use quickly becomes higher. I would suggest that many KM tools in the past, the opposite is true.

So, yes, these tools are easy to use, which leaves us with the important question: "What's the PU?"

I personally find that most people will evaluate PU on compatibility and immediate personal value. Compatibility looks at how the software fits the user's values, beliefs, and ideas as well as the tasks that it will support. Immediate personal value is a question of whether you derive real value from the software early on.

Many past KM systems were predicated on "come put lots of your information in" ... "we'll get value later." That just is not going to get adopted.

McAfee points primarily at the lower PEOU:
"The good news is that the new technologies focus not on capturing knowledge itself, but rather on the practices and output of knowledge workers."

But I think the argument:
Things like bookmarks and Flickr picture uploading are driven by personal convenience and value (easily accessed bookmarks or a place to share pictures with friends and family).

In the Enterprise, will employees get value from these tools? I would suggest looking at my article: Personal Learning for Learning Professionals - Using Web 2.0 Tools to Make Reading & Research More Effective

In this article, I'm talking about using these tools not to help other people, but to do something better that will help me. In particular, Personal Research / Personal Learning. I get value whether or not others adopt the tools.

I don't see adoption as a slam dunk here, but I do see that the higher PEOU and higher PU multiplied makes significant adoption significantly more likely.


Dean said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dean said...

I agree with your analysis, except that in my experience it presupposes that the people also are striving to develop a learning organization, as defined by Peter Senge. In other words, people need to really be trying to "collectively enhance their capacities to produce the outcome they really wanted to produce." (1)
Otherwise, I've observed in organizations I've worked with, things like wikis and tags are just a nuisance.


Tony Karrer said...

Dean, I would agree that you cannot presuppose that people are striving to build learning organizations. But that's not what I'm saying at all - in fact, quite the opposite.

Most employees don't really care about helping with any bigger picture stuff. And that's the fatal flaw in a lot of what has happened in Knowledge Management.

Rather - my perspective is that unless you can help the individual employee with what they are trying to accomplish right now, you won't be very successful.

However, I do believe that using Yahoo MyWeb provides a MUCH BETTER bookmarking capability than what I have in my browser - primarily based on searching the contents of the pages, storing the pages for future reference, and, to a lesser extent based on tagging.

Note: that has nothing to do with creating a learning organization or helping other people find stuff. That's great if it happens, but not necessary.

Dean said...


I was looking at it from a different perspective, but I understand your point.

By the way, great blog,


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.