In the last three years, businesses have been pummeled by a bevy of trendy technologies that marketers, analysts, employees and, yes, the media have deemed invaluable for the enterprise. These social media tools promise to connect disconnected workers, harness untapped, ingenious ideas and cultivate all manner of innovation-driving serendipity.
It's questionable whether information-sharing tools such as wikis, video podcasts and behind-the-firewall social networks are radically transforming organizational behavior---as the aforementioned parties would have you believe--or just helping organizations make better use of existing resources. However, companies have been experimenting heavily, and piloting both successful and unsuccessful projects, to understand how they're going to integrate these technologies into their operations in a way that makes business sense.
Some, like Dell, are endeavoring to expand successful localized projects across divisions, while others, like Cisco Systems and Booz Allen Hamilton, are graduating from individual tools and rolling out strategic companywide platforms. And the most successful projects have at least two things in common: They were built with a key business process in mind, and predicting their ROI was not part of the equation.