Web 2.0 is now very mature and encompasses the vast topography of the entire networked economy. Next week's very pricey and exclusive San Francisco Web 2.0 Summit is subtitled 'Points of Control - the Battle for the Networked Economy' ...incumbents in the network economy are consolidating their power and staking new claims to key points of control.
Against this terrain, nicely illustrated in the Web 2.0 Summit map reproduced without associated interactivity above, where does Enterprise 2.0 - the firewall and security constrained enterprise business which orchestrates vast work forces to produce products and services? With global banking economic failure continuing to provide painful convulsions, there is increased focus on driving efficiency at all levels of business process.
The enterprise world is anchored in legal, security thinking with large numbers of employees dedicated to manning the firewall to protect data and intellectual property. This is their sole job function, and there is nothing in it for them to relax their vigilance because interesting new ways of working have come along, and plenty of career to lose if secrets slip out.
The town of Lausanne in Switzerland suffered from many devastating medieval fires in their distant past and is the last European city to keep the tradition of the nightwatch (le guet). Every night between 10pm and 2am, after the bells have struck the hour, you hear a deep voiced civil servant call out from each sides of the gothic cathedral tower “C’est le guet; il a sonné l’heure” (“This is the nightwatch; the hour has struck”)...the 'all's well' message very similar to the one enterprises continue to pay handsomely for.
Being kept awake by being told all is well is somewhat redundant and anxiety inducing, and somewhat analagous to the realities of modern enterprise extranet firewalls: they are a mass of exceptions as various web services and vpn tunnels connect to the network economy and enable collaboration between business units.
Most modern companies have literally millions of (insert your local currency)'s worth of IT infrastructure investment behind the ramparts of their corporate fortress, and this machinery hums away to enable vastly differing business processes and needs to meet business objectives. It's against this infrastructure that Enterprise 2.0 thinking aims to augment and make more agile pre existing lakes of information and data, enabling greater information flow and collective collaboration where it's needed.
Finding your way around the Enterprise 2.0 map is getting more complicated as it matures into various segments - the needs of tightly regulated industries constrained by reporting requirements are markedly different to those dedicated to selling packaged goods to consumers by interacting more closely with their prospects for example. Many people have difficulty at industry conferences identifying which case histories and technology offerings map to their needs, and can get dazzled by shiny objects which in their case are solutions looking for problems.
Enterprise 2.0 is no exception, and I had a couple of conversations with conference attendees concerned about adding a new layer of expensive technology on top of their existing expensive technology stack who were looking for cost justification and value models. They could see the advantages of their respective realizations that Enterprise 2.0 thinking would enhance their business efficiency by solving problems with better knowledge sharing and exposing enterprise data from multiple locations, but what was the long term cost prognosis....would they ultimately save money or wind up adding another layer of expensive complexity?
I'll get into more detail about my Human Resources People and Culture Track and other aspects of the conference in future posts - like everyone who takes time out to attend conferences I now have a scary backlog of work to attend to!