In my last post, Year-End Thoughts On Enterprise 2.0 & Social Software, I wanted to provide a background context on some of the areas where Enterprise 2.0 remains ambiguous:
- Enterprise 2.0 is not a market. Enterprise 2.0 is perhaps best thought of as a collection of principals, organizational practices, and adoption methods that enables emergent participation and contributions models.
- Enterprise 2.0 is not a project. By this, I mean that organizations should not undertake Enterprise 2.0 initiatives for the sake of "doing Enterprise 2.0. This was the fundamental mistake that doomed many KM projects in the late nineties. There needs to be some business purpose - that purpose may be very intangible in terms of ROI, but there should be some localization and internalization of what E2.0 means to the enterprise itself.
- Enterprise 2.0 is not that big of a deal. There are too many voices that are taking E2.0 as the hammer to every nail. Enterprise 2.0 does not address all patterns of communication, information sharing, and collaboration.
- Social Software lacks definition. The Wikipedia definition that McAfee defaults to does not help clarify what E2.0 is about when it comes to use of social software. The best definition that I mentioned in the post comes from Clay Shirky. We too easily constrain social software to specific tools which leaves the door open to ambiguity and vendor posturing.
- Emergent Social Software Platforms remain ill-defined as well. ESSPs form the technical foundation for Enterprise 2.0 yet (1) there has been little effort to examine the evolution of social software platforms over time (made more difficult by a lack on consensus on what social software is in the first place), and (2) if there is such a thing as an ESSP then there must be a non-emergent SSP - so what makes a social software platform emergent - what examples of emergent social software platforms have we witnessed in the past and why did they fail or where did they succeed - and does that mean we have legacy ESSPs/SSps and what can we learn from those older generations solutions.
Enterprise 2.0-related activities overall continued to mature in 2009 from what I have seen in the industry and within Burton Group clients. From a tooling perspective, across the board, IT groups seem much more comfortable with social tools and social applications. Increased calls from identity and security teams indirectly tells me that these systems are getting more scruitiny as they are rolled out to broader audiences. From an organizational viewpoint, adoption challenges remain the most significant hurdle. Project teams consistently under-estimate the need for governance and change management efforts. Getting management to buy off on the business case is also difficult given the discretionary nature of such initiatives and the lack of traditional metrics to gauge ROI.
Wikis are highly commonplace when I talk to clients - sharing content is less "scary" (association with publishing perhaps) than some other tools such as blogs. It is not uncommon for organizations to have more than one Wiki provider but consolidation via standardization is underway. While purists will make the case that Wiki vendors (e.g., Atlassian) have distinct technical advantages over larger platform providers that offer less-than-perfect Wikis (e.g., Jive, IBM, Microsoft), it is clear that platform approaches are winning out. Most conversations now are about platforms that best support
Blogging seems to be something that organizations remain somewhat skittish about (internally) - there are more blogs discussed during my calls than in 2008 but they still appear to be more controlled (versus letting all employees blog openly). This still strikes me as an irrational fear for the most part. There are valid concerns regarding confidentiality, compliance, etc but the fear that employees will use blogs as a soapbox is one that I have yet to come across when policies and governance programs are effectively put in place.
Tagging/bookmarking remains a nascent topic in my calls. Mostly I chalk this up to most enterprise intranets having poor native web content and the lack of bookmarklets in productivity tools which would allow people to tag/bookmark content in applications other than a browser. Most people I talk to see tagging and bookmarking as a feature not a product.
RSS (including Atom) discussions actually did increase this year vs. 2008 although overall, this topic remains below the level it should within the industry and clients. I chalk this up to the classic middleware dilemma. A feed syndication platform is essential from an architectural perspective. There remains too much emphasis on feed readers and not enough focus on the underlying management platform to handle read/unread marks, de-duping, security, storage and network management, analytics, and so on. NewsGator is the only viable enterprise option (for a feed syndication platform) in most cases. Major vendors (IBM, Microsoft, Oracle) are still missing in action when it comes to a complete feed syndication framework.
Social networking is taking off but from the perspective of a social network site (a "corporate Facebook") that acts as a community and social networking destination hub. Social network sites arguably represent the current E2.0 best practice. These platforms often contain a complete manifest of tools often associated with E2.0 (e.g., blogs, wikis, community spaces) along with profiles, social graphs - and more recently - micro-blogging / activity streams. Back in 2008 I defined (and shared on this blog) an architectural reference model (template) for an enterprise version of a social network site (based on the early work of dana boyd and Nicole Ellison who defined something similar for consumer sites). This model remains an accurate depiction:
Overall, the social network site is where most of the E2.0 action is from a vendor perspective. An illustration of how I personally view the competitive landscape is illustrated below. Platform Vendors are those that have established, broad-based environments. Domain-specific Vendors are those that concentrate on a set of related capabilities (sometimes referred to as best-of-breed). Emerging Vendors are those in a specific domain that compliment or augment an existing market model. Transformational Vendors are those that threaten an existing market model (possibly as a new entrant), or trigger disruption (changing market structure), or act as a template that enterprise vendors mimic (they do not enter the market but what they do has a direct influence).
The goal is to get to the center of the bulls-eye by the way. Note: so far, no one is there.
These charts go nicely with an early post and graphic I shared concerning Social Networking Platform Evolution: From Destination Site To Networked Services. While the focus currently is on a destination site, you can feel change in the wind as the focus shifts towards middleware services that enable social information to be contextually composed into other applications and productivity tools.