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I want my Enterprise 2.0

It's taken a while, but I'm beginning to get the hang of Enterprise 2.0.
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Written by Rupert Goodwins on

It's taken a while, but I'm beginning to get the hang of Enterprise 2.0. The job's not made any easier by the usual parlously low signal to noise ratio; as with any fashionable, badly-defined idea there's enough marketing balderdash to perturb the orbit of Jupiter. And the good stuff is buried underneath.

I know what Enterprise 2.0 should be about. It should be about sharing not just data, but views onto that data. At the moment, too many of us are stuck in a world of email attachments, shared drives and cluttered desktops – ideas about as advanced as the horse and cart. Collaboration takes place between tiny silos of information: the best we can hope for is something like Google Docs, a word processor that knows about more than one user – but not much more than that.

Which is a shocking waste of information. When I'm working on an enterprise project, I need to know when documents change – and I'd like to know when they're read. I want to keep track of anything and everything connected with the project, with an emphasis on areas that are personally important. The computers – more accurately, the network – can know all of this; it mediates all access and can analyse connections and actions until the bovines return to base.

But it doesn't. Even if it did, there's little tradition of presenting complex information in a way that recognises the last ten years of technology and what we've created. It only takes a few minutes' thought to come up with any number of desktop visualisation techniques that could reveal what's going on in a glance: we have graphics hardware as standard that can render huge amounts of information differentated by shape, colour, brightness, animation. So why are files represented by bitmapped icons as static and information-free as Egyptian hieroglyphics?

All these ideas should be as easy to string together in a collaborative environment as blocks of Lego; building up an accurate model of the work of the company as naturally as sketching an idea on a piece of paper. They should be deployable by individuals, spreading between workers and groups because people want to use them – not dependant on IT departments buying thousands of seats and unleashing huge changes asynchronous with demand. They use ideas that are commonplace elsewhere, and build on open interfaces that we've had for years.

Where are they?

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