Andrew McAfee started an interesting discussion recently with his post Drop the Pilot. McAfee makes no bones about the fact that he isn’t a big fan of pilots for Enterprise 2.0 projects. Both in the comments and in subsequent posts by people like Phil Green, many have weighed in with their thoughts on these type of pilot projects. It’s high time for me to chime in.
My Definition of Enterprise 2.0
Before continuing, a definition is in order. I don’t define E2.0 in the same way that McAfee does in his eponymous book or on his blog. McAfee’s definition largely focuses on collaboration and social software in the enterprise. I go a bit further.
In The Next Wave of Technologies, I define Enterprise 2.0 a bit more broadly to include emerging technologies such as SOA, MDM, SaaS, clouds, BI, social networking, open source, and others. From my book’s first chapter:
Simon Says: Context Matters
As for the pros and cons of pilots, I understand both sides of the argument. Consider two extremes:
- Company X: A large and overly complex organization with a terrible history of managing IT projects, a dysfunctional culture, non-existent data governance, and other undesirable attributes.
- Company Y: A nimble startup with few hurdles, relatively good data, and a successful history of agile software development.
How can one credibly make the claim that Company X should undertake even a small Enterprise 2.0 pilot? Let’s say that Company X wanted to move their apps and data over to the cloud. They would just be adding further complexity to their existing architecture. On the other hand, Company Y can probably jump in with both feet.
These are two extremes and obviously most organizations and IT projects will fall in between them. Industry, type of application, organizational culture, risks, rewards, and other factors need to be considered before undertaking a pilot project. I hate to sound like a traditional consultant, but it depends on many variables. To me, an unequivocal stance makes little sense.
What do you think?
Photo from Simon Arramore.
My strongest takeaway from this post is the craziness of defining terms especially for initiatives that should evolve organically over time from usage, debate, growth. McAfee kicks off a notion in 2006, but the rest of the world has been participating for quite a while, so “Enterprise 2.0” becomes something new, or even several “somethings” new – variations on the original McAfee scope. Is this messed up? I don’t think so because the changing and multitudinous definitions reflect interest and participation from many parties and POVs. Activities around social and collaboration are about people interacting – and definitions had better change over time, or the social / collaboration activities have lapsed into stagnation.
Your 3 principles (which I agree with) show the continued evolution, especially pointing out that means of deployment and technology now interact with strategies, programs and practices. At the center are people which will and should make Enterprise 2.0 a living phenomenon subject to change.
Phil, thanks for including me in your post. You clearly reinforce the idea that the E2.0 net is being cast farther and wider than ever before — inclusive of not just collaboration and social software as McAfee originally stated, but of cloud computing, SaaS, BI, etc. as you mentioned as well. At the crux of it all are the people — the consumers, producers, and facilitators of all things E2.0. I also agree with the other commentator, Julie, likening E2.0 to a living phenomenon. It will evolve and adapt, and is unique to any given enterprise situation.