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Why has social/enterprise 2.0 failed to achieve widespread adoption?

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A discussion that has gained some ground lately, why has social/enterprise 2.0 failed to achieve widespread adoption? 

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  • I think there are a number of reasons for this. For starters, its a big break from the more traditional mindset, secondly we all know how hard it can be to have the "right people" contributing and we have all heard the saying "too many cooks spoil the broth". Throw into the mix that social is not an easy thing to incorporate into current systems and solutions, in many aspects social really goes against the grain...

    We also know that the Enterprise is never the first to adopt new thinking or software, rather enterprise likes to "pilot" and see how things go. This means social etc will take a lot longer than many would predict to become widespread (lets face it, how many enterprises are still not engaging in social media at all, how many still run XP etc etc)

    Finally, we also must remember, though while there are lots of benefits of social, the fact remains that the enterprise can exist and work almost as well without it as it does with it...Without it, the enterprise maybe missing a trick, may lose market share etc, but its not bust overnight. Social still has a long way to come on in regards to the masses and it therefore has a long way to go with the enterprise

  • Like everything... Lack of real tangible value. What killed MySpace was trying to charge for it, which is why Facebook is "free forever". So perhaps enterprise social software should develop a ad-based or pay pet click model

  • I think it's failed to gain adoption because it hasn't really had a 'champion' of the cause with any clout. Given the amount of attention generated by the Dreamforce conference and the promise of the "social enterprise" I think that may change very quickly.

    What we also need, besides the software heavyweight behind it all is the evangelism to show companies that it's not just technology driven but that change within the enterprise culture needs to happen in conjunction.

    So far there's very little of that but I have attempted to push ideas in this direction for the past year:


    One thing to note is the Analyst's views constantly change like a Swingometer depending on where the wind blows and the latest darling buzzword, and unfortunately companies tend to hang on their every word so some consistency is needed in the community when trying to support something as game-changing as the social enterprise.

  • @Ian Pay per click / advertising revenue only works for one or two companies, thats it. So Facebook and Google safe, no one else can rely on that, not even Yahoo...

    Any business model that relies on that sort of revenue is potentially massively floored, even Google and Facebook. All that has to happen is a big enough switch away with the user base, and thats it, it all quickly falls away...

  • Social/enterprise 2.0 failed to gain adoption? That's not what the data says. Check out McKinsey's latest report:


    What may have failed to gain traction, so far, is formal development and measurement of E2.0 resources and practices. But informally, under the radar, in every corner of the enterprise, there is a lot of work and communication being enhanced via social media. Heck, what are we doing right here on this site to share our ideas?

  • Another reason may be that we're always looking for that one solution for everything. When enterprise 2.0 become a discussion topic, suddenly everything had to be 2.0, up to and including the process to empty wastepaper baskets.

    Had people given themselves more time for reflection on what areas might profit from "social" and what no-go areas there are, maybe the way services provided today would be based much more on 2.0 thinking.

    In that sense 2.0 has fallen victim (just like BPM) to the blunt axe approach when a toothpick would have been more advisable.

  • I would respectfully disagree with Joe McKendrick. Its not about adoption, its about "widespread" adoption. And the question conflates 2 very different things, namely Enterprise 2.0 (Web services on steroids) and social media in the enterprise (Yammer, Chatter, etc).
    In my view, these technologies were never going to take over the world (in spite of what I may have marketed at BEA :) ). Rather, they represent an additional channel for integration (ent 2.0) and communication (social).
    Enteprise 2.0 is alive and well. I have a fairly large marketing automation set up, with drupal (http://loglogic.com), Eloqua and Salesforce.com all integrated seamlessly (or close to it...some of my seams leak from time to time). None of these run on hardware I have to maintain. It just happens.
    As for Social, the best exemplar of this movement inside the enterprise is Salesforce.com's Chatter. At first, it seems like a toy, but when you get the first really update from a large opportunity you are watching, you immediately get the value. It delivers what ever managers wants....more visibility into making sure things are getting done right.

    Bill Roth

  • I agree with both Theo and Thomas.

    Firstly I think that people haven't really taken to heart the magnitude of the disruption that social and enterprise 2.0 represent. To really succeed you need to think deeply about your business model, the way in which it is impacted and the tools that make sense in the context of different kinds of work.

    At the same time I think that there is a problem of inertia - until people see compelling examples that they can replicate or adopt (or are hit by competitors who 'get' the shift) then organisations will fail to move in any significant way due to the tyranny of the status quo.

    I wrote about this in more detail a few months ago in this post

  • Enterprise 2.0 is not identical to Social Networking Services for Enterprises.
    Enerprise 2.0 is about usage of Web 2.0 technologies in an Enterprise context, for example usage of Mashups in Enterprise context. Two factors are hindering Enterprise 2.0 usage: Control and Security, which are not a must in the Web 2.0 context and are a must in the Enterprise Context. Social Networking Services are a Web 2.0 technology. Social Networking Services can be used as internal Facebook like tools for Enterprise. In this Use Case the issues are again Control and Security. McKinsey's latest report cited by Joe is not quantifying Enterprise Social 2.0 usage. According to it companies which adopted it are more successful than companies that do not use it.
    Another Use Case of Enterprise Social 2.0 is for User Facing interfave for external customers activity in CRM systems and other systems. This is a popular approach which will be used more frequently in the future.

  • How amusing, Peter. Predicting the demise of E2.0 already?! Such predictions are the normal part of any tech trend. I seem to remember everyone talking about the "failure" of BPM a few years ago, and even SOA was "dead". This is the natural course of falling into the trough of disallusion.

    Social Business (Enterprise 2.0) will have profound effects on how we work. It will change everything, so give it a little time.


    It took 10 to 15 years for email to catch on. I remember when my boss used to have his secretary print each of his email out, and deliver in a paper in-box. Changing business habits formed over decades takes years, at the least.

    It is most important to mention the network effect: when I talk to people who are "failing" to adopt e2.0, they point out that it is because "nobody else is there", and there is almost no benefit to being there alone. So everyone waits until everyone else changes.

    We should not expect the change to be sudden. I wrote more about this at:




    • I have to agree with Keith - too early to call the failure or death of E2.0 or social business, for just the reasons he cited. substantive change usually takes longer than people expect. Most of my product support conversations now start with my making a negative observation on twitter. Next thing you know a company is reaching out to fix my problem. Things are still (gradually) changing.

  • I have a different take. I think Social has spread more slowly than expected for two reaasons:

    1) Social media that isn't 'connected' to something that unifies people doesn't have the same value. I currently use Chatter as part of SalesForce.com, and it works well enough, but it lacks a common thread to the way I perform my daily work. My company was recently acquired by Tibco, and looking at their tibbr product, it has a very different approach that allows for social media to be linked to people, concepts, products, and processes. That connection makes it a unifying force that has already made my entry into the new organization far easier and faster than expected. Tibbr won me over because it is RELEVANT to what I do, not just another source of data.

    2) Whole careers are built around learning how to do something...becoming an expert and maybe gradually working your way up the corporate food chain. Along comes a technology and use pattern where (albeit at an extreme view), "everyone is an expert and no one is in charge". That kind of change is very uncomfortable to those who are satisfied with or protected by the status quo. Getting their buy in will require that they see something new and better not for the enterprise, but for themselves. When social media enables a lateral view of how work is done, the functional silo is threatened. Don't underestimate the discomfort this creates for many. A business can't change because of technology alone if the people won't change with it.

    Make it inextricable from work (my first point) and get past the fear, and social technology adoption will see a big acceleration.

  • The two primary reasons for the lack of widespread adoption are priority alignment and change management. The highest level executives would have to be aligned on driving and supporting "Enterprise 2.0" initiatives. The way we operate businesses today is just not optimal and driving the necessary change is hard and requires commitment, time and lots of energy. It seems like everyone is focused on quick hits and cost reduction. If it is going to take years to get results then it does not seem to make or stay on the short list of priorities that really get attention. As a result, nothing really happens to drive the necessary changes. It's not all bad, there is progress, it just isn't widespread, yet.

  • Sorry, but I don't accept the premise of the question! To me, it is way too soon to even begin speculating about this since social/enterprise 2.0 technologies haven't really been on the market long enough to even approach the "Chasm," never mind cross it.

    I wrote on my Weissman's World blog at the end of June that "the bulk of any market is a good four years behind what gets featured in the trades and in conference tracks." If you buy that, then it seems to me that social/enterprise 2.0 is tracking quite nicely -- never mind that some are already chasing 3.0 and beyond!

  • I have to agree with Steve Weissman and Joe McKendrick, the question is flawed; we're just starting to hit mainstream adoption. While some organizations may not be adopting or are having some difficulties, the data shows that, in the lowest estimate, nearly half of all enterprises are investing:


    A smarter question is probably what benefits are organizations that have invested in social business seeing. That is something that the industry is beginning to understand more clearly and I've explored earlier this year:


  • It hasn't failed, Peter. It is still simmering within the ranks and sure to spring a surprise to upend control freaks at the top. This e 2.0 idea is a powerful force that has seeds planted inside the hearts of every worker empowered in their own worth and who are beginning to grasp of what 'life's work' truly means.

    One more offshoot: Get ready for select leaders to emerge from the pool of managers - those who understand what peoples' mandate means in contrast with know-it-all despots.

  • I want to focus on Enterprise 2.0 because social networking is booming out side the business world.
    Enterprise 2.0 applications are not touching the core business process like order management, logistics etc.
    There some efforts but until the big ones (SAP, Oracle) will offer more exposure of their processes it will stay as it is.

  • Sorry to be late to the party on this one. A lot of good comments already, and I agree that to use words like "failure" or "dead" is premature. Progress is being made. I thought it was worth sharing this article with the group by Laurie Buczek talking about steps to increase social business adoption in the enterprise.


  • I agree that it is too early to predict the demise of social and enterprise 2.0 - but it certainly isn't happening at the speed expected. I think Keith hit on part of the answer, technologies have a +/- 10 year adoption curve, and we aren't there yet.

    But there is more to it than that - what companies really need is a way to increase the productivity of knowledge workers. Social software (at least at it stands for the most part today) is focused on facilitating conversation – but it seems more for conversation participants than for the organization as a whole, which means that is only a part of what is needed for widespread adoption.

    The benefit to the organization as a whole isn’t completely clear. It also isn’t clear that social software will actually improve productivity - management is worried that it will just give people another way to “goof off”. It is very difficult to provide value to A, but then try and charge B. B needs to know explicitly what is in it for them - in this case B is the organization. I think this disconnect is at the heart of some of the comments about changing the business model for social software in the enterprise.

    For social software in the enterprise to really take off it will need to expand to provide value to conversations both from the personal and enterprise perspective, link conversatons and publishing (and make those conversations available to the enterprise), and enable searching (but not just as a standard search on unstructured data, but rather as a context aware search on the information that relates conversations and content). All this means a different approach than just taking social techniques from the consumer domain and making them available in the enterprise.

    I've written more about this:



  • Lots of interesting comments and links in this thread. Personally, I don't doubt that to some extent social software will ultimately be as widespread as email - it's certainly not failed altogether. But it won't be in the short term, it will - as Keith says - take many years, and in the meantime will continue to frustrate those who "get it" already. My original point was that the issue remains a cultural one in terms of the way organisations operate (i.e. the various levels of management in a hierarchical organisation structure as well as general processes which both control or stifle the flow of information) - it mustn't be seen as just whether or not a technology has been adopted.

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