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Is Enterprise 2.0 Just a Waste of Time?
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Is Enterprise 2.0 Just a Waste of Time?

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Phil Wainewright: Vendors and visionaries are gathering in Boston this week for the Enterprise 2.0 conference, but real-world business use cases for social computing and Web 2.0 technologies are few and far between. With job security and salaries under threat everywhere, shouldn't people be getting on with their jobs instead of wasting their time socializing at work?

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  • I believe E2.0 is focused on identifying new means of achieving higher productivity, not socializing. Now, the path there has been fraught with lots of the "sky is blue" conversations, which are an unfortunate side-effect of allowing a model to emerge organically.

    The levels of productivity we have achieved in the enterprise have skyrocketed since the 1960's, but it has led to work being accomplished in a very siloed fashion and it has also peaked. In order to achieve greater levels of productivity, we are going to have to foster better means of communicating without having to lose time on face-to-face meetings.

  • Interesting timing for that question. Tomorrow I am speaking at the RIA World conference in Munich about “The gate to the Cloud and Enterprise 2.0? – and I do not plan to deliver an obituary.

    I think that the fuzziness surrounding Enterprise 2.0 is a key reason for the doubts about its usefulness. If one confines that to Twitter and Wiki, than it could be. But when you take in the full impact of Web2.0 on the Enterprise, then there’s probably no way to get around it. I have commented in this sense a few weeks ago, and feel even more strongly about it now with additional market feedback and RIA projects going live.

    I include in Enterprise 2.0 the Cloud related software architecture (and primarily Rich Internet Applications), the Inbound Marketing imperative (which stems amongst others from Social Computing environments such as Blogging, Twitting and Networking), and the emerging Situational Applications with Enterprise Mashups and probably PaaS.

  • The question is phrased provocatively, and I've posted a riposte in my blog, Enterprise 2.0: Automating the Unpurposeful. This makes the point that collaboration on unstructured processes does indeed make a huge contribution to the productive efficiency of an organization. Therefore there is a very strong business case for automating those processes so that they can achieve results faster.

  • Enterprise 2.0 is *not* primarily about being more social even though that is part of the means to an end, which is being more collaborative with people you do *not* already know or work with (and that's the key point) and making more informed decisions faster.

    See my blog for more of my thoughts re: #E20 strategy.

    http://twitter.com/lliu

  • The term "social" in Social Media really trips up enterprises (and with good reason, espeically if your organization is subject to regulation and compliance). "Media" as a term is problematic too.

    I think it's time to discard the term "social" for something more useful, that truly describes the value of the relationships and aggregated knowledge that Enterprise 2.0 can deliver to business.

    For illustration and further commentary, check out the conversations at Emerging Web Memo. Also see Josh Bernoff's comments about Why Social Media Sucks.

    There is tremendous power in the proper use of these Enterprise 2.0 tools. The network effort is best the more other people participate and use these tools.

    Additionally, I think these tools can help build relationships. Relationships are necessary to good businss, and themselves are inherently social. But, just because they're social--and there are negative perceiptions to the term--doesn't mean we should stop E2.0 projects and initiatives.

  • Business has been transitioning from the hierarchical organizational "need to know" compartmentalized structure to something new. We've witnessed the flattening of the organization. The move from vertically integrated to virtually integrated organizations.

    Enterprise 2.0 enables organizations to harness staff and customer collective intelligence. It is this notion of "getting on with their jobs" that limits creativity, innovation and break-through ideas. It is what gives the rust to the rust belt.

    Small business growth, particularly organic growth, is much higher than large business. Smaller businesses have less barriers to communications. Workers are less pigeon-holed. Collaboration is necessary. Enterprise 2.0 can put larger companies at an advantage by leveraging staff, partners and customers. Yet, smaller firms seem to be adopting flexible technology faster than larger companies.

    We should not make conclusions about the Enterprise 2.0 market based on a blip. We seem to have more evidence that Enterprise 1.0 is a waste of time!

  • Work is people and "people" is work. The foundation of business lies in people communicating -- effectively and efficiently. To the degree that E2.0 can deliver there, that is the value it offers.

  • Are you seriously trying to say that the entire purpose of Enterprise 2.0 is "to socialize at work"? That's a National Enquirer caliber word choice that is either designed to start a virtual food fight or to make a point. (And I honestly can't tell which.)

    I think the real question is: is there any point in evangelizing a notion that is inevitable over time, because larger social constructs will not permit companies to avoid evolving, no matter how hard they try?

    I think asking if the EVANGELISM is a waste of time is a legitimate question; asking if the term "social media" is a hindrance for that evangelism is equally legitimate. But equating Enterprise 2.0 with merely "socializing at work" is ludicrously simplistic and fundamentally misguided.

  • Let's just get rid of the water coolers, and the cafeterias while we're at it; and what about those small coffee stations that are magnets for wasting time? Let's confine people to their desks with only the telephone, email and web browsing privileges exclusively limited (as narrowly defined as possible) to their primary functions.

    I do like the controversial phrasing of this question because it contains the seeds of its own fallacy. Technology without people does not work, people without technology do not scale. For the first time ever we are allowing the true voice of the customer/employees to be heard and efficiently shared across enterprises. Social computing has finally delivered its sociability; while those ignoring those voices are starting their journey towards extinction... Who's next?

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