Wednesday, 20 June 2007

You're all completely wrong

That's right - you're all completely wrong about the future of Enteprise 2.0. I haven't even had a chance to watch the recording of the debate Webcast, but I know this is true. Well, except maybe for Euan.

As I was reading a summary from Michael about the Instant Messaging stream at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference (Michael is providing great coverage BTW) my immediate thought was what on earth does this have to do with Enterprise 2.0? Now it looks like Jevon MacDonald was having similar thoughts and has declared:

"This conference has made it painfully clear that the term Enterprise 2.0 has no discernible value at all. The label simply means everything and nothing all at once. It has become a something that people want to add to their recipes."

Actually, I don't know why he is surprised - in fact what we should be interested in is speed at which we (or some of us) have come to the Trough of Disillusionment in the hype cycle around Enterprise 2.0.

I'll try to explain why I think everyone is wrong about what has happened to Enterprise 2.0 and where it is going:

Firstly, its not a question of revolutionary or evolutionary. We have to understand how different people have arrived at this point of what is really a convergence of ideas and technologies with diverse origins. For example Michael (sorry, I'm not picking on you!) and others are quite right that Lotus Notes has rich heritage of collaboration - in fact I laughed quietly when the Atlassian demo at Web 2.0 in Australia showed something that Lotus Notes users have been doing for a long time (sharing notes about a conference they attended and allowing people to respond with comments). But we can't assume that new Web 2.0 wave of developers and users share those same experiences - as a result they are coming up with new and often improved versions of old solutions. It doesn't mean we have to dump the old stuff either, and it has a lot to teach us too.

Secondly, I agree that software vendors and less well informed consultants are jumping on the bandwagon. But to be fair, I think enterprise users are equally to blame by adopting Web 2.0 technologies as information management tools, rather than engaging them as true Enterprise 2.0 facilitators. There is nothing wrong with that, but its confusing for everyone when we talk about Web 2.0, Social Software, Social Media, Enterprise Web 2.0, Enterprise Social Software and Enterprise 2.0 all in the same breath. Of course, one of the reasons people are jumping on the bandwagon of using Web 2.0 technologies inside the firewall is that they offer an easier way of providing simple information systems that can tackle the needs of complex, networked and emergent business environments. So what ever happens, however we use them and what ever we call it, this is still a good thing. And won't it be good if the existing big enterprise software vendors introduce Web 2.0 or Web 2.0 inspired features into their products?

Well, right now I think the biggest challenge to Enterprise 2.0 is that we have got a bit confused about what it means. Beyond this the biggest challenge to large organisations using Web 2.0 technologies is that it either they won't scale in a useful way or that the benefits of the Web 2.0 approach will be lost as we adapt it to the enterprise environment. Unfortunately the big enterprise software vendors could really drop the ball in this space.

To avoid this just don't forget these two rules:

  1. Enterprise 2.0 is about people PLUS free form information management technology (Web 2.0 is good for this, but remember SLATES) - you can't have one with out the other.
  2. Web 2.0 is all about small bits, loosely connected - but it can be hard to keep it simple.

Easy isn't?

Ok, now tell me I'm wrong :-)


  1. James,
    You are correct. Enterprise 2.0 is like Web 2.0, and it is a just the new use of collaborative apps in the enterprise.
    - Dave

  2. James, I agree that there is a problem with the terminology. Unfortunately it's a complex concept, but each time we talk about it (or 'sell' it) we need a pithy label. The danger lies in using the label when talking to the uninitiated and assuming they understand what one is on about....


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.