Friday 7 November 2008

Time to take a deep two-oh breath

I really enjoyed reading this interview with Tim O’Reilly. I was only saying recently that the predictions of the demise of Web 2.0 (and everything related) are coming from those who are looking at this wave of change from standing with in it, rather than looking back at what has happened before and to quote just one part from this interview:

‘Over time, people have come to equate Web 2.0 with a small, lightweight start-up funded by advertising,’ O'Reilly said. ‘That became the popular definition of Web 2.0, and people have taken potshots at it.’

If you think that's all there is to Web 2.0, if you think the game is really over, then you're going to miss out on the even bigger transformation that lies ahead.

Looking inside organisations I think the same can also be said about equating Enterprise 2.0 to blogs and wikis. If you think that this is all Enterprise 2.0 is about, how disappointing – you are going to miss on that bigger transformation O’Reilly is talking about, which will effect society and business.

So, it is indeed time to take a deep breath and look at the bigger picture. Personally I hope to refresh this blog a little and expand beyond the narrow focus it has had recently.

To be honest, I’m growing a little tired of social media peddlers with their diet plan strategies for transforming organisations – you know the kind of thing, those throw out your management theory and just follow our “seven steps to success” pieces. In practice the results vary and never last. Some of them I fear have never even seen inside a large enterprise, because for as many instant enterprise social computing success stories I hear about, I come across mediocre attempts of the build it and they will come strategy. Viral adoption can happen – I’ve been involved with it first hand, but the environment has to be right (both from a technology and an organisational perspective).

For example, I came across a global organisation this year where people had taken a ground up approach to installing a range of social media tools, many based on open source tools. They had an example of all the popular social media tools you can think of installed. Great, right? Unfortunately my impression of what I saw was that it lacked cohesion, the tools had poor usability (probably because people didn’t have formal funding to work on them) and to be honest most people didn’t even know they were there. This doesn’t mean there isn’t potential - I was excited about the possibilities but disappointed about the apparently random and misguided application.

I’m sorry if this sounds overly critical. I’m genuinely excited by the opportunities ahead of us, but my training and work experience is all about critical thinking that informs pragmatic implementation. So, I just can’t help myself ;-)

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