Is There Anything New to Say about Enterprise 2.0?

May 21, 2008 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Blogs, Enterprise 2.0, social software, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

I’m waiting for the “Enterprise 2.0 presentation” v2.0.  I’ve already heard enough times about how web 2.0 is important and can be applied to the enterprise, how Wikipedia is a new paradigm, how information flow is important, the importance of social networks, a walk-through each technology (blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, …), relevant surveys and studies, etc.  The first few times were fine since even the converted sometimes need to hear a better way to evangelize others and have materials (presentations) to show their bosses to prove it’s not just them saying it’s important.  And there are still lots of people who are hearing this for the first time.  But the number of first-timers decreases each month thanks to evangelism from all sides (vendors, press, industry analysts, conferences, academia, books) and it’s about time to think about what kind of presentation one can give to an audience who already knows how participatory interactions and networks are important, buys into the value, and knows their technologies and terms.

At BEA Participate there were a few Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0) presentations from BEA folks, although the best was from Andrew McAfee.  It was really the archetypical Enterprise 2.0 presentation.  That’s fine – he created the archetype and suffice it to say that if you haven’t heard him speak before, he’s a great speaker and is very good at conveying what he means by Enterprise 2.0 and possesses a wide variety of surveys, academic references, case studies, and anecdotes to support his case.  He’s the Lexus of next-generation information worker speakers.  Having heard this type of information literally dozens of times before from many sources (and I’ll be doing this same type of presentation myself at DNUG in June), I’d like to hear the next version.  Since Mr. McAfee is a professor, I’d say that by now I was expecting the “201” presentation in college terms, or maybe “501” for grad school.

Note: I’m not asking for an enterprise 3.0 presentation.  I’m not saying “OK, enterprise 2.0 – I got it. What’s the next big thing?”  I’m not looking for a whole new set of technologies beyond the E2.0 ones.  I buy into the E2.0 set and want to continue following their evolution and absorption into the enterprise.

Some thoughts off the top of my head on what goes into “The Next Enterprise 2.0 Presentation”:

  • Tracking statistics:  E2.0 presentations all tend to use snapshots of stats demonstrating pain points or E2.0 adoption.  By now we should be starting to get tracking stats that show how they are increasing or decreasing over time.  Note: I’m a stickler for proper survey technique, so you can’t just compare separate surveys that happen to be a year apart to deduce trends.  It would have to be the same surveyors who would then word the questions the same and weight the respondents according to the same demographics (industry, geography, company size) for the results to mean anything
  • Top 5 observed blocking factors: Unless you’re ready to hold up a “mission accomplished” banner on E2.0 in the enterprise, you should know by now what’s holding E2.0 back in many cases.  Not just what one could assume (cultural barriers, incentive barriers, control issues, immature directory infrastructure, etc.), but from actual observations
  • Models: We should have seen enough uses of these technologies by now that certain patterns start to emerge.  My colleague Mike Gotta has been doing a good job of teasing out patterns in areas like blogging
  • Architecture: Again, with more actual implementation experience there should now be guidance emerging on conceptual and physical architectures.  Showing how identity management systems integrate with E2.0 systems, how to include extranet partners in the E2.0 topology, and how centralized and decentralized (with syncing) models can be architected would be of particular interest
  • Deflating the bubble: There has been a lot – perhaps too much – excitement and too high of expectations on E2.0 (to say nothing of some revolutionary rhetoric).  OK, you got people’s attention and made points by being a bit extreme – now you can bring it back down to Earth a bit.  Now is the inevitable time to step back and admit where old technologies have proved resilient, where the new technologies aren’t all they are cracked up to be, and build a bridge between the two worlds on how they can blend together
  • Roadmap: You may not be ready to hold up the “mission accomplished” sign yet, but can you now see where we’re headed?  Where are we today, where are we trying to get to (maybe a choice of multiple points depending on the enterprise), and what are some milestones to look for on the road there?  I think an obvious input into this roadmap is standards, so which standards will be needed to get to the destination and what is their status?

Of course there can also be updates to information in the 101 presentation, such as new case studies, new surveys, new products or websites, clarifications of terms (there are constant battles about terminology being fought by the digerati that result in slight changes to definitions), and more depth (like more detail on how wikis work).  But I’m really holding out for the next E2.0 presentation that moves the concept forward, not just goes deeper or jumps on to a new set of technologies.

I know I’m just dreaming here – all this is just a wish list.  But I think it’s one that’s within reach for the next iteration of E2.0 presentations.

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