I have been checking out a really interesting/smart book called The Art of Letting Go, Enterprise 2.0. The book is a series of essays by people like Stefan Bocking, who runs webs services at Vodafone, Gotz Hamman, business editor for the big German weekly Die ZEIT, Andrew McAfee, a professor in tech and ops management at Harvard biz school. The essays address ways web 2.0 technologies (many of which are communications technologies which is one reason I’m so interested in them) can be used as business tools.
Here’s one bit that caught my eye.. I’ll quote directly from McAfee’s essay called “A Definition of Enterprise 2.0”
One of the most common phrases I hear in discussions of any type of IT initiative …. is “It’s not about the technology (INATT).” I’ve heard this from vendors, consultants, technologists, executives … analysts, pundits and academics ….
People usually mean one of two things when they say INATT; one of them is correct but somewhat uninformative, and the other conveys a lot of information but is incorrect and even dangerous. The correct-but-bland meaning is “It’s not about the technology alone.” In other words, a piece of technology will not spontaneously or independently start delivering value, generating benefits, and doing precisely what it’s deployers want it to do. Technologies have to be managed in order to do any of these things; they’re not magic bullets or miracle cures.
The other meaning behind INATT is “The details of this technology can be ignored for the purposes of this discussion.”
As somebody who has seen many times how the details of anything — including, and often especially, technology — is experienced by users/customers can have huge impact, I think McAfee is right on! in saying how wrong this second point is.
But I disagree that the first point is bland and does not bear repeating early and often — even if people seem to get it. Communication is aided by technology… but it really (really, really, always) is about people. I am going to start using the acronym myself… but I am going to add a letter to really make the point: INATTA (the second A being “Alone”).
My little note isn’t nearly as smart as many of the points in McAfee’s essay and in the book in general. Check the book out for yourself.
Thanks to Tina Kulow for the booktip.
Oh, BTW, the book as a website.