Adoption remains a hot topic for everyone implementing social media in the enterprise. Getting people to actually use the tools once they've been purchased can be a bigger challenge than the process of purchasing and deploying an enterprise-grade system. Scott Ryser is the CEO of Yakabod, an enterprise 2.0 vendor that has been mostly focused on bringing social media to the US intelligence community. Ryser took the time to share five principles for enterprise 2.0 adoption that he says have worked for Yakabod's customers, but could work for enterprises implementing solutions from other vendors.

Principle #1: Focus on low-level pain, not high-level possibilities

Ryser suggests finding a small pain and doing something to fix it. For example, "make it easier to post to the company blog" is a better starting goal than "improve communication and collaboration across silos." The former addresses a small pain - the difficulty in posting to the company blog. The latter is a large, abstract goal. The success in improving the ease of posting can be measured by watching for an increase in blog posts.

Principle #2: Go for incremental gains, not overnight success

Ryser suggests rolling features out to a select group before doing enterprise wide deployments. It's easier to support a small group and make the necessary improvements, and once a few people are using a tool others will want it (we saw this with RackSpace's Rypple deployment).

Principle #3: Don't bother nailing down requirements

This is a pretty surprising one. "The old waterfall approach to system development is dead," writes Ryser. "It's impossible to anticipate every requirement up front." Ryser suggests taking an agile development approach: start with a small tool and give users a compelling reason to use it. It can be improved and expanded upon incrementally.

Principle #4: No progress without political juice

Ryser also emphasizes the role of organizational politics in adoption. "You need a champion with clout, supported by a cross-functional team of people with a good mix of experience, credentials and authority," Ryser writes. And don't forget middle management - the people who will actually be responsible to overseeing the everyday use of these tools.

Principle #5: Make sure something happens when nothing happens

Make sure there are clear measurements for initiatives and that there are real consequences if nothing gets done, Ryser concludes. In a world where projects routinely die on the vine, it's important that stakeholders know who is ultimately accountable for a project's success or failure.

Photo by Sheila Scarborough