Sunday 19 October 2008

Book Review: Enterprise 2.0 Implementation

The only reason I know Jeremy Thomas is through his blog, but I was always impressed by his thoughtful and pragmatic posts about Enterprise 2.0. So, when I heard he had co-authored a book on implementing Enterprise 2.0 (with Aaron Newman from Techrigy), I was really pleased to be sent a copy from him to review.

Just to set your expectations, this book is mostly focused on the implementation of the technology behind Enterprise 2.0. Jeremy has actually commented himself on the feedback he has received elsewhere that the book is “light when it comes to discussing the softer issues about managing organizational change with such an implementation.

However, I actually think this is a good thing and that there is just enough of a business context included in the first few chapters (including some practical tips for calculating ROI) and then around each of the topics covered that you can clearly see where and why each of the Enterprise 2.0 technologies they cover fits. In fact I suspect I would be slightly dubious if the authors had also tried to provide a guide to implementing organisational change for Enterprise 2.0. Really the benefit of this book is that regardless of your own personal theory on the why and how of Enterprise 2.0, this book is here to help you understand better how to implement the technology you need to achieve your goal.

In this respect, one of the great things about this book is that it covers all the topics associated with enterprise social computing that you would expect – e.g. blogs and wikis – but also a lot more. In fact the real litmus test for me is that they have devoted a whole chapter to Web Syndication that covers RSS and ATOM. Even better, they are able to explain their role in aggregating content for users along with positioning feeds as powerful application programming interfaces for computer-to-computer communication. Even a book focused on the technology of Enterprise 2.0 could have ended up being a superficial tour of blogs, wikis and using Facebook as an intranet but instead they demonstrate a deep understanding of the parts that really make it all work.

However, if I had one criticism then it is not about the book itself, but rather how we define Enterprise 2.0 and following on from that, how we define the technology we use to implement it. I suspect some people will be challenged by this book because it does cover more than simply downloading and installing Mediawiki – but unfortunately for some, Enterprise 2.0 begins and ends here!

Overall I think Enterprise 2.0 Implementation will make a great book for two types of people:

  • Non-technologist who have already been sold on the idea of Enterprise 2.0 but want to develop a better understanding of the technology behind it; and
  • IT managers who want to understand how the different technology elements of Enterprise 2.0 add value and fit together.

This book is definitely worth adding to your own bookshelf or buy it for someone you are trying to influence!

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