Enterprise 2.0 = Next Generation IT

Summary:After Wikipedia deleted the "Enterprise 2.0" entry, the Enterprise Irregulars swarmed, responding to the critique of the term by a Wikipedian editor as a "neologism of dubious utility" and taking a crack at defining it.

After Wikipedia deleted the "Enterprise 2.0" entry, the Enterprise Irregulars swarmed, responding to the critique of the term by a Wikipedian editor as a "neologism of dubious utility" and taking a crack at defining it. Jason Wood questions the logic of excising the term for the peoples' encyclopedia:

Truthfully, if Wikipedia is REALLY about being the ultimate reference source for every human being on the Earth, it shouldn't matter if ONE or ONE BILLION people care about the term "Enterprise 2.0." But when you realize that it's a term at the epicenter of a lot of creative thought and debate, I'm incensed that someone so UNFOCUSED on the business world would simply delete the entry. How is Wikipedia better for the deletion?

On his ZDNet blog, Dion Hinchcliffe provides his definition of Enterprise 2.0 and diagram (below) as heavily and logically influenced by Web 2.0:

Enterprise 2.0 in general describes the liberation of often previously inaccessible corporate information to be opened up to general discoverability, consumption, and reuse using a Web-based model.

 

ent20dion.jpg

Dion also points to Jerry Bowles' post, Top 10 Management Fears About Enterprise Web 2.0:

Technological Barriers
1.  How can I be certain that the information that is gathered and shared behind the firewall stays behind the firewall?
2.  How do I control who has access to particular levels of  information and databases?
3.  How do I protect the integrity of the information from malicious tampering by disgruntled employees or managers?
4.  How can I be sure that information is being “tagged” properly for efficient retrieval later? 
5.  What kind of training do employees need before they can effectively use the technology?
Cultural Barriers
6.  How can I monitor the system to make certain that what individuals are saying and sharing reflects company policy?
7.  What are the legal dangers in saving and sharing so much loosely supervised input?
8.  How do I distinguish “productive” use of the technology from horsing around?
9.  How do I “manage” the gathering and disseminating of so much unstructured information?
10.  How do I know if I’m getting my money’s worth out of the investment in technology?

Harvard professor Andrew McAfee wrote about Enterprise 2.0 in a Sloan Management Review article ($), citing simple, free platforms for self expression; emergent structures, rather than imposed ones; and bringing order from chaos. He also views Web 2.0 technologies--such as RSS, blogs, tags and wikis--as core to Enterprise 2.0.

...the important question for business leaders is how to import these three trends from the Internet to the Intranet --  how to harness Web 2.0 to create Enterprise 2.0. 

Leapfrog Ventures' Peter Rip suggests that Enterprise 2.0 will be user-driven:

...Enterprise 2.0 as a platform shift is mostly about the enabling technologies.  Web 2.0 rode the back of Open Source and Moore's Law to crack the economic barrier in building web based services. What followed were technologies for making applications richer (AJAX), easier to build (Ruby on Rails), and easier to integrate (REST and RSS).

But only a tiny community of developers have built Web 2.0 apps using AJAX, ROR, or LAMP.  It is really just a few thousand people -- and very few work in large enterprises or ever will, again.   So how will the Enterprise 2.0 apps get built?  I doubt it is from a startup like Jotspot who has no business process expertise nor business data management expertise.  I doubt it is Oracle or SAP who pride themselves on selling Sherman Tanks as radiation-hardened compact cars. The users will build Enterprise 2.0 apps, not the vendors.  

Peter is right to some extent, in that users will build Enterprise 2.0 applications and services, but companies like Oracle and SAP have to provide the infrastructure and tools for the build out or they will become relics of the past.

SAP's Jeff Nolan takes are more generalized view of Enterprise 2.0, cautioning not to get hung up on the Web 2.0 moniker. He lists SaaS and on demand computing; SOA (underpinning Web 2.0); open source in the stack; less vendor-oriented packaged applications and more user-centric; roll your own IT, either as a combination of the above or from a user point of view the ability to assemble purpose-specific applications that are highly personalized yet are within the confines of traditional enterprise context; and convergence of the consumer Internet with the traditional enterprise.

Jeff's description of the incipient trends in the enterprise captures more of the shift from client/server (1.0) to the next generation of technologies (2.0), which is empowered by Web 2.0 (blogs, wikis, RSS, AJAX, browser-based, tags, mashups, DIY, etc.).

Like Jeff, Vinnie Mirchandani views Enterprise 2.0 as more than mashing up with Web 2.0. He lists 11 elements in his post (a-k) for starters:

a) supports choice of customer deployment of functionality as a service, and in installed mode
b) is architected and priced/sold as a series of services
c) sells maintenance broken in to support and upgrade charges and allows an ecosystem of partners, not just the publisher, to alternatively provide support.
d) largely automates bug fixes/upgrades which require little customer (or service partner) intervention
e) provides process management, configuration, conversion, integration, testing, systems management, end user training tools to minimize implementation and support labor
f) provides customers with a wide range of service partners which are audited, graded and certified each year based on product training completion, customer feedback,
g) commits to transparency to customers around product quality, customer service ticket resolution, outages (where provided in SaaS mode) etc.
h) provides a mechanism for certification of integration of third-party software products, and re-certification as releases change
i) actively encourages a on-line developer/integrator community and pushes for an "open source" licensing of community intellectual property
j) Commits to sharing with each customer a "sticker" showing standard list of various components/services and various discounts and taxes
k) shares with customer base on a regular basis summary results of various implementation and support metrics from its service partner ecosystem

As the various inputs and opinions suggest, defining Enterprise 2.0 is a bit of a Rubik's Cube, which is why having an evolving Wikipedia entry could help to bring some clarity to the subject. It's about using new technologies and new business, governance, process-centric and interaction models...and it's in a state of flux. At least we know what it isn't, and for the most part, see the benefit of making the Enterprise 2.0 or 3.0 journey, despite the fact that we can't precisely define it. Whatever you call it, we are in the midst of transitioning to the next-generation, germinated by the maturation of SOA, virtualization, the Web and other foundation pieces. Perhaps we won't have a more precise definition until we look back on this era, when it qualifies as a legacy architecture. Given we are only about halfway through this transition, let's not get hung up on the definition. As Wittgenstein said, "the meaning of a word is its use in the language."

Topics: Enterprise 2.0

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