State of Enterprise 2.0: The White Paper

The official white paper for this June's Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston is now available for free download here, and was written by myself and Sameer Patel of the Sovos Group.
Written by Oliver Marks, Contributor

The official white paper for this June's Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston is now available for free download here, and was written by myself and Sameer Patel of the Sovos Group.

Formerly the 'Collaborative Technologies Conference', the mid-decade name change reflected the distinction between the old order and Web 2.0's momentum.

A major challenge for business leadership is understanding how to orchestrate greater value and flexibility from their existing large enterprise backbone applications in conjunction with newer, more agile Enterprise 2.0 processes and technologies.

The old order of '1.0' collaborative technologies was founded on behind the firewall monolithic software designed for PC's: today's world takes for granted browser based always-on applications and the rapidly accelerating smart mobile and video mobile revolution.

Enterprise 2.0...

...was a reaction to the restrictive document, postal and telephone work flow paradigms that are now over a century old and were essentially emulated digitally to model ‘1.0’ communications and application technology platforms in the personal computing era.

We live in an unusual era where we still use the conventions of typewriter technology - 'CCing' an email means 'Carbon Copy' - despite the limitations of these obsolete devices being ancient history.

Finding valid reasons to break out of these paradigms is hugely challenging for businesses outside the technology world, and has tended to occur in pockets of users who are breaking with conventions.

Small and medium size business usage of 2.0 technologies tends to be very different to enterprise scale, and of course many large companies are actually composed of lots of smaller entities with their own P&L and organizational hierarchies.

Office 2.0

There's a huge difference between these departmental operational uses of Web 2.0 tools in business, where they are sometimes considered a minor cost of doing business, like ordering printer paper and staplers supplies, and mapping strategic cross enterprise intents at a high level.

The 'handy gizmo' world of free or inexpensive 2.0 applications and iphone apps, and the 'shadow IT' server-under-a-desk network or low cost cloud service tends to have  legal  and IT compliance breaking out in hives if they reach any sort of critical mass.

While business leadership increasingly discern compelling reasons to become more agile and build out  collaborative enterprise 2.0 at scale that is fit for purpose, pragmatic focus around how these newer technology elements compliment, eliminate, augment or draw from existing technology infrastructure is a challenge without clear business acceleration goals and perceived values.

...Openness, transparency, agility, collaboration and ‘social’ computing are currently highly fashionable values, but applying them to achieve specific business value with both existing and new web 2.0 technologies while attempting to manage employee change for effective use is highly challenging.

Vital issues around context, implications of participant and social network growth effects, successful understanding and application against process, scaling and enduring engagement use models have never been more critically important strategically.

The sheer volume of noise around online marketing social media business, which has relatively narrow goals and intents, often tends to drown out much more deep seated strategic and tactical planning, and of course this is not helped by Facebook's rapidly eroding privacy policy, documented here by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Apart from being laughable in a business world of tight ULA and SLA agreements designed to protect information, the transient 'easy come easy go' waves of these 'free' consumer social life products - which are increasingly promiscuous with your online identity and artifacts - distort business leadership's vision of the value propositions of Enterprise 2.0 to improve performance for competitive advantage.

Business employees today live in two worlds:

- Your personal easy world online where everything is findable through Google and marketing makes it simple to purchase, with a smart phone in their pocket to contact anyone anywhere at any time.

- Your work world where the restrictive document, postal and telephone based thinking has resulted in oceans of unfindable document based information, email and meeting overload combined with challenging travel and time zone communication issues.

To individuals flattered and empowered by marketers online who make information and purchases mere clicks away, the old 1.0 security bunker mentality of corporate computing seems stale and limited, and by comparison it largely still is.

Realizing more efficient and interconnected ways of working by using the the power of  modern technologies is the goal of Enterprise 2.0.  Understanding how businesses are organized today and how to solve their business problems is the intent.

I will be continuing this discussion during the weeks leading up to the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, where we are running the 'Set Your Enterprise 2.0 Strategy' track that maps to the white paper, and will also be discussing here some of my thoughts on recent experiences in the trenches with real world clients setting strategic and tactical thinking.

Editorial standards