The Latest on Enterprise 2.0

Submitted by Jon Lebkowsky on .

Dion Hinchcliffe writes that "Enterprise 2.0" – social software or "Web 2.0" technology in the Enterprise – is maturing, and points to a Radicati Group analysis, via a post at SocialText, suggesting that the business social software market will reach over $3.3 billion by 2011. Hinchcliffe says The big question for many of those on the fence now is: 1) Do we now have the right capabilities in terms of ready Enterprise 2.0 products? And 2) Do we generally understand how to apply them properly to obtain good returns on our investment in them? Knowing the answers to both questions will almost certainly tell us if we’re ready for mainstream adoption of adoption of Enterprise 2.0 any time soon. He goes on to discuss the work of Professor Andrew McAfee of Harvard Business School, instigator of Enterprise 2.0 thinking, which he defined as "the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers." The social applications would be "optional to use, free of unnecessary structure, highly egalitarian, and support many forms of data." Key elements of Enterprise 2.0 comprised the "SLATES" list: Search: Discoverability or findability of information drives reuse, leverage, and ROI. Links: Using urls to forge thousands of deep interconnections between enterprise content 24/7. Authorship: Ensuring that every worker has access to social platforms and is supported in working collaboratively and sharing knowledge. Tags: Allowing natural, organic, on-the-fly organization of data from every point of view. Extensions: Extend knowledge by mining patterns and user activity. Signals: Make information consumption efficient by pushing out changes. Not every "social" application works in this kind of environment. Examples platforms that failed to make the cut as Enterprise 2.0 because they didn’t have the qualities that were believed to be important for business business outcomes? These included most corporate intranets and portals, most groupware, as well as e-mail and “classic” instant messaging. Why? They either didn’t provide access to a voice for workers to communicate and collaborate with or they didn’t create results that were persistent and globally visible. In the end, Enterprise 2.0 takes most of the potent ideas of Web 2.0, user generated content, peer production, and moves them into the workplace. Hinchcliffe goes on to list several lessons for the Enterprise in 2007. First off, the evolution of this highly collaborative, egalitarian communication environment will happen "with your or without you" – i.e. if the Enterprise doesn't make it happen, it will come in through the back door. It will involve more than blogs and wikis - those may be core technologies, but there are, and will continue to be, other technologies emerging that more specific to particular needs. His lesson #3 is that "Enterprise 2.0 is more a state of mind than a product you can purchase," a lesson that aligns with what I've been saying about the Web 2.0 label: it doesn't describe specific technologies; all the best writing about Web 2.0 presents this or that set of technologies as they exemplify the real change, a move to open, convergent communication environments where everything is digital, shareable, and there are many ways to share and collaborate. Organizations become networks with many connections, many data flows, many ad hoc relationships forming. There will clearly be management challenges, but the digital evolution is like a force of nature, you have to go with it, or be left behind. Lesson #4: Most businesses still need to educate their workers on the techniques and best practices of Enterprise 2.0 and social media. Companies will have to evolve practices that work to sustain efficiency and effective work within new information environments. Consultancies like Social Web Associates will work with companies to evolve strategies for effective communication and new approaches to knowledge management. Hinchcliffe elucidates other lessons about how benefits will manifest, the role of existing IT organizations, and advice to be ready for significant change and disruption. Check out his post, especially his new mnemonic (FLATNESSES) at the very bottom.