Worthwhile webcast to listen (replay) and set of PDF slides available (see below). My analysis of the effort based on the webcast and slides follow below.
Enterprise 2.0 – What’s the Real Story?
While many corporate executives believe Enterprise 2.0 will have a major impact on business, few understand exactly what it is or how to manage it. Social computing? emergent technologies? Blogs? Wikis? Social Networks? Mashups? RSS? Do these technologies amount to anything? Is your organization ahead or behind the curve with adoption and understanding of Enterprise 2.0?
- The good news: the presentation (link below) has some very useful data points (some of which conflict, which shows some market confusion) on questions submitted to survey participants.
- There is really no need for "yet another definition" of what Enterprise 2.0 means (Slide 6). I will continue to recommend that people leverage the original definition offered by Professor Andrew McAfee from Harvard Business School.
- Here's AIIM's definition: "A system of web-based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise".
- Here's McAfee's: "Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.”
- The only caveat that I have added to McAfee's phrasing when I discuss E2.0 with clients or people in general is to phrase E2.0 as "the emergent use of social software platforms" vs. "use of emergent software platforms" which I believe preserves Mr. McAfee's original intent.
- The gap in the definition of E2.0 remains "social software" - and that definition is best served by leveraging a definition from Clay Shirky who defines social software as "software designed for group interaction". That is incredibly helpful because it provides for a conversation about social software that preserves the lineage of information sharing, communication and collaboration tools.
- Enterprise 2.0 builds on the Web 2.0 concept as defined by Tim O'Reilly who also describes an "architecture of participation" to describe systems that are designed for user contribution (very synergistic with McAfee's work). O'Reilly puts Web 2.0 in the context of "Web as platform", centralization of data ("data is the next Intel inside"), and collective intelligence (alluded to in the AIIM definition). The concept of platform is important and should not be discarded - especially given Marc Andresson's insightful definition of what constitutes a "platform" which puts the term in the context of a something that participates with "systems".
- We (as an industry) are still remiss in associating Enterprise 2.0 as a specific set of tools. That clouds the role of culture and other organizational dynamics which are so influential on "emergence". What we also need is to a better job at is defining the use case scenarios and usage models around information sharing, communication and collaboration tools that make something "E2.0" (basically, adding legs under McAffee's and Shirky's definitions).
- Listening to the webcast replay, I have a bad deja vu feeling (KM in the nineties). When you ask whether Enterprise 2.0 is important to your business strategy you are asking the wrong question. E2.0 augments your business and organizational initiatives - E2.0 is not an end in-and-of-itself. This was the false siren call of KM which lead to so many overblown expectations and so many project failures. It is no wonder that the term does not come up very often (Slide 20). Like other terms that are somewhat espoused by technologists, there's no business context. If you talked about E2.0 in business terms such as how such a program augments strategic talent initiatives, address shifting workforce demographics, assist with innovation efforts, reduce exception handling or other coordination costs, etc. you are far ahead of the game.
- The role of culture is spot on. Enterprise 2.0 is not about "all collaboration", "all types of information sharing" or "all types of communication". The context of E2.0 is anchored around "emergence". Addressing organizational dynamics, which includes culture, is important to fully leverage and sustain the goals associated with E2.0. I discuss notions between different types of participation - that which is "directed" vs. what is "volunteered" in this post, "Why Is Social Software So Important?". Sometimes culture is they critical barrier, sometimes it is not - especially when participation and user contributions are "conscripted" (a term used by David Snowden in a KM context).
You can use tools associated with E2.0 in very beneficial ways - but sometimes a wiki is just a wiki, a blog is just a blog. Defacto use of the tool does not qualify as being "Enterprise 2.0". At times, a person's role, workflow rules and other functional duties require people to share information, communicate and collaborate with each other. Within such a context, a certain degree of interaction will occur, even if the organization's culture is deemed to be "unhealthy" (however you wish to define that symptom).
But even within a scenario where participation and contributions are directed - there are often opportunities for emergence - there is no exclusivity here between the more structured work that occurs within an organization and the informal interactions that E2.0 emphasizes.