This blog is about IT-related failures, so of course that's where we focus. A recent series of high profile failures have provided an easy platform for discussing Enterprise 2.0 weaknesses. These failures, however, should not obscure the incredible power of Enterprise 2.0 and social media tools.
This point was brought home to me today in a personal way, when an image of a cat and a gnome I posted on this blog was placed onto Fark. In almost no time, the original image ran up
close to more than 15,000 hits on Flickr, and there are now about 75 new variants of this picture, all created by Fark users. This is pretty extraordinary: a temporary and ephemeral social collective came together around a picture of a garden gnome and cat. While many of the variants are just silly, quite a few represent serious photo-manipulation skills. Think about the power that could be harnessed if this group was specifically organized and coordinated toward a common objective.
Although I came down pretty hard on Skype during their recent outage, we must remember that, at any given moment, millions of Skype users are online simultaneously. This represents a consumer-level force that can affect economies and politics, and eventually will. Perhaps even more meaningful in the short run is the way Skype, and similar VOIP tools, have changed international commerce for small business. These tools have effectively reduced international telecommunications costs close to zero for many companies. One can only marvel at the level of innovation, creativity, and commerce that has been engendered as a result. And oh by the way, the implications for established telecommunications utilities are equally considerable.
As described in the Failure 2.0 post (and also here), Enterprise 2.0 companies and their traditional business counterparts should be held to equal levels of customer accountability and responsibility. Failures in these areas can, and should, be brought to the surface. At the same time, let's not forget the genuine innovation, power, and benefit that these Enterprise 2.0 firms collectively bring to the market.
Update: In a kind of weird, self-referential twist, this post has now made it to the front page of Fark, for Sunday 8/19/07.