Monday 31 March 2008

AIIM's new Enterprise 2.0 report explains why its a "squishy phenomenon"

I haven't seen a lot of discussion yet about the new AIIM report on the state of Enterprise 2.0 (free to download, but you must register) by Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen. Strangely, I only came across it due to a message sent to me via a SlideShare group. Perhaps like me, if you have already discovered this report, you are still working through all the graphs - and there are a lot of them!

Graphs and statistics aside, I did enjoy their discussion in the first chapter where they attempt to define Enterprise 2.0 - nice to see someone actually using Andrew McAfee's original work in this area as a starting point. As part of explaining their definition they share their email conversation with their advisory panel about their Enterprise 2.0 definition. Note my emphasis here, I enjoyed the conversation but like David Weinberger (on the panel) I'm not sure what benefits or improvements their definition brings... after all, Enterprise 2.0 is a "squishy phenomenon".

I'm also not entirely convinced about their second section that traces the evolution of Enterprise 2.0 technical functionality. Frappaolo and Keldsen attempt to map back a range of Enterprise 2.0 technologies to McAfee's SLATES model, but while I see what they are trying to do I found myself questioning the analysis at this level. I think in part this is because they broke down and assigned technologies to different stages (Enterprise 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0) without discussing how the evolution of Enterprise 2.0 technologies might relate as much to how the technologies are used as what they are. For example, Stewart Mader's recent online poll on how people are using wikis highlighted the many different use cases. On the other hand, and you would expect this from an AIIM report, the introduction of issues about findability, control/distribution and security into the Enterprise 2.0 conversation is useful.

With my current obsession with Enterprise RSS, some of the data and commentary in this space also caught my attention, particularly this point from the section covering business drivers:

"RSS, which is actually specified in XML, also is generally recognized as relevant to an Enterprise 2.0 strategy (65% indicated that it was somewhat related or critical to the strategy). If an organization is using this Enterprise 2.0 technology to provide content syndication, then it would “have to” actively incorporate the standard into its strategy. In fact this assertion is supported by Figure 2 in which 75% indicated that RSS its into their definition of an Enterprise 2.0 platform, and Figure 22, in which 51% indicated that they have already acquired RSS technology (with another 21% planning an acquisition).
Conversely, the fact that 70% of the surveyed individuals had no knowledge of the SLATES and FLATNESSES frameworks that govern an Enterprise 2.0 application speaks to the more tactical and less strategic approach to deployment, as discussed above. There is a need for more education and awareness-building in the market concerning fundamental principles and guidelines for Enterprise 2.0.

Later, looking at the state of the market they observe that:

"Deeper investigation into true adoption rates shows a recurring theme of the early days of adoption: a battle  between holistic/systemic use and ad hoc/tactical application of Enterprise 2.0 as a coherent system versus the use of the individual technological components."

If I understand what they are saying here, this gets back to my criticism above that we can't isolate technologies as being in or out of Enterprise 2.0. My take on this is that an immature approach to Enterprise 2.0 points to implementing specific Web 2.0 labelled technologies in isolation ("we've got a wiki"); a mature approach suggests one that considers Enterprise 2.0 as an ecosystem of complementary SLATES technologies. On a similar theme, Stephen Collins recently commented more broadly about Web 2.0 that captures the essence of this problem:

"Here’s what I’m seeing. Many sites out there are getting makeovers that have them looking like Web 2.0 sites, but they’re the same old thing under the skin - walled gardens pushing a message from the top down... Often, [Rich User Experience] is the only one discussed in depth by clients. They want a good looking, sexy site that draws in the customers. However, the remaining six [core attributes from Tim O’Reilly’s September 2005 Web 2.0 definition], adopted to one extent or another are really what makes an application or site fulfil the Web 2.0 promise. With visual treatment only, it’s just lipstick on a pig."

In this context, the authors also examine the issue of Enterprise 2.0 technology having low barriers of entry and conclude:

"As organizations take a more strategic and broader view to Enterprise 2.0, it is likely that they accept that while Enterprise 2.0 is low-barrier, it is not no-barrier.  Unlike the ad hoc deployment of a single user’s blog to broad-cast opinion across an intranet or the web at large, the orchestration of multiple point technologies in support of and as part of enterprise processes will likely always have some expense associated with it, albeit radically less than more traditional approaches to enterprise collaboration."

My take on this is that some organisations may get a nasty surprise when they try to expand their own experiments with Enterprise 2.0 technology to a wider organisational audience - and this is something I'm already seeing in practice.

As well looking at the technologies of Enterprise 2.0 the report provides some analysis of the survey data in respect to the Enterprise 2.0 business drivers and the impact of business culture, however I'm still reviewing the detail in those sections and will comment later if I read anything significant. The conclusions in the final chapter focus on three issues:

  • Technology (the need for a strategy);
  • Culture (as an impact); and
  • Security (a "double-edged sword").

Overall, I found this AIIM report provides some interesting data about the state of Enterprise 2.0 and the authors have clearly put a lot of effort into making sense of this wealth of information. However, if you are looking for guidance this report might provide you with some pointers but it isn't a roadmap (and after all, I do recognise that this is a market intelligence report) - on the strategy front in particular, I think further and a more in depth discussion about Enterprise 2.0 as a deliberate strategy is needed before you go off and do it. But I am glad that they identify and highlight the importance of understanding what Enterprise 2.0 is (probably the key take away from the report), but I'm left wanting to understand more about this "squishy phenomenon".

Have you read the report? I'd be interested to know what you think about it or my comments.


  1. James:

    I am impressed with the coverage of the AIIM Market IQ on Enterprise 2.0, and basically agree with the opinions and comments you made. Thanks for helping Dan Keldsen and me spread the news. Enterprise 2.0 is a fascinating next stage in information processing and knowledge management. Unfortunately, there is not enough content out there on it, and am,ong the content that is available, too much of it is not objective in my opinion.
    Again thanks. (BTW I am going to post tis comment to my blog (, and direct my readers here.)

  2. Anonymous4:52 pm

    Thanks for your detailed insights into the AIIM study. No doubt it was a serious attempt to dig into factors affecting rate of E2.0 adoption.

    I'm curious about the ROI findings and what your experience is trying to prove the value of collaborative tools to satisfy executives.

    In full disclosure I'm asking in the context of an article a colleague and I are writing.

    Thanks for considering.


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