The two articles below are well-worth a read. I very much agree with Tom Davenport and Andrew McAfee on this point. There has been too much irrational exuberance regarding the technology associated with E2.0. A more balanced discussion would also focus on how success of E2.0 will be largely influenced by how well an enterprise addresses the complex organizational dynamics that often inhibit change.
I have a slight disagreement with Andrew McAfee that these tools are radical departures from previous generations of communication and collaboration technology. I see these technologies more as a natural progression. Tools emerging under the category of social software are benefiting from common application, infrastructure and network services that were not mature in the eighties and nineties. There was a reason e-mail was the "killer app" 15 years ago. A store-forward model was the only viable design given unreliable end-to-end networks with limited bandwidth. There was a reason a platform such as Lotus Notes was such a huge hit in the market. It is true that originally Notes was a self-contained environment (some would call it monolithic). Notes came with its own infrastructure, complete with its own repository and even dial capabilities for mobile users. At the time, directory, storage and other infrastructure services were not readily accessible to applications in any consistent fashion. Today, we would not engineer a product in that manner but there was no other option back then.
The maturation of application, infrastructure and networking services has enabled software designers to take for granted certain capabilities that 15 years ago did not exist. Generalized common services help create abstraction layers that now enable developers to think about web sites in terms of an operating system or platform. As lower-level services become taken for granted, designers and developers are able to focus on software that exposes functionality that we now call "Enterprise 2.0".
So - were prior generations of collaboration and communication tools inadequate? The answer is "yes". But more often than not, earlier generations of tools had to deal with constraints that today's E.20 tools do not have to be as concerned about. Does that mean that E.20 tools are a radical departure? The answer is "no". Today, we have a new set of design criteria that allows us to focus on the social aspects of how people work together, share information and communicate across groups and networks. That design criteria exploits a more mature collection of application, infrastructure and networking services. Much of E.20 technology is evolutionary and in some ways, inevitable.
Why Enterprise 2.0 Won't Transform Organizations
The absence of participative technologies in the past is not the only reason that organizations and expertise are hierarchical. Enterprise 2.0 software and the Internet won't make organizational hierarchy and politics go away. They won't make the ideas of the front-line worker in corporations as influential as those of the CEO. Most of the barriers that prevent knowledge from flowing freely in organizations – power differentials, lack of trust, missing incentives, unsupportive cultures, and the general busyness of employees today – won't be addressed or substantially changed by technology alone. For a set of technologies to bring about such changes, they would have to be truly magical, and Enterprise 2.0 tools fall short of magic.
I STILL Agree with Tom. And yet...
My optimism, and my interest in the component technologies of E2.0, comes not (solely) from my inherent geekiness, but from the fact that these technologies really are something new under the sun. They’re not extensions or enhancements to previous generations of corporate tools for collaboration and knowledge management; instead, they’re radical departures from them. Technology platforms that are initially freeform and eventually emergent, that require no nerd skills to use, and that contain the SLATES elements I proposed a while back were born on the Internet just a couple years ago, and are now starting to make their way behind the firewall.
Source: Andrew McAfee