Enterprise 2.0: What is it and why should you care?

A look at this increasingly popular term.
Sep | 1 | 2009

Sep | 1 | 2009

dbThere’s a good bit of buzz today about the Enterprise 2.0 landscape. Since my second bookThe Next Wave of Technologies, is about the newer technologies, I figured that I’d chime in with my two cents. This post discusses the term and attempts to “debuzz” a potentially annoying buzzword.


Author, speaker, and research scientist Andrew McAfee coined the phrase Enterprise 2.0 in 2006. He currently defines it as “the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.” McAfee goes on to define several related terms:

  • Social software enables people to rendezvous, connect or collaborate through computer-mediated communication and to form online communities. (Wikipedia).
  • Platforms are digital environments in which contributions and interactions are globally visible and persistent over time.
  • Emergent means that the software is freeform, and that it contains mechanisms to let the patterns and structure inherent in people’s interactions become visible over time.
  • Freeform means that the software is most or all of the following:
    • Optional
    • Free of up-front workflow
    • Egalitarian, or indifferent to formal organizational identities
    • Accepting of many types of data

Many have taken issue with this definition for different reasons, including author Tom Graves.

In the new book, I define “Enterprise 2.0” a bit more broadly than McAfee. Enterprise 2.0 encompasses emerging technologies, not just social networking and other collaborative tools. I use the term to include technologies such as:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Mobility
  • Enterprise Search and Retrieval (ESR)
  • Social Networking
  • Business Intelligence (BI)

Some of these technologies are hardly “new” but, as a percentage, few organizations have attempted to deploy and use these tools for all sorts of reasons. Many of those that have ventured into these largely uncharted waters have met with, at best, mixed results. (I could quote a whole bunch of statistics here since I’ve been doing a great deal of research but, for now, trust me.)

What does this mean for organizations?

Enterprise 2.0 is all about extending the capabilities of core applications. A few examples will shed light on what I mean:

  • ESR is essentially the googling of enterprise data, applications, reports, spreadsheets, and other documents. Isn’t it silly that we can search 18 billion web pages in 0.2 seconds but cannot find a key document?
  • Mobile technologies extend the capabilities of ERP applications, particularly in manufacturing and inventory-related environments. Many vendors have introduced Mobile Supply Chain Management (MSCM) applications that allow end-users access their systems via cell phones and other portable devices. One need not be chained to a desktop to access key enterprise information.
  • Cloud Computing allows end-users to access key information from wherever they are. Data “in the clouds” is simply more accessible than data stored in a single location. While there are security implications related to “de-perimeterizing” the enterprise, clouds are gaining momentum as organizations look to improve accessibility of information and reduce costs.
  • Open Source (OS) alternatives to traditional offerings are gaining ground. Companies such as Compiere are making strides in the market. While I know of personally no organization that has made the switch from a proprietary app to an OS one, mark my words: it’s only a matter of time before more organizations give serious consideration to this option. Cost and an ability to “control” versions of an application are merely two benefits of OS applications.
  • Business Intelligence allows organizations to do simply amazing things with their data. Recently, I have been reading about Sentiment Analysis and IBM’s new SNAzzy tool. Both allow organizations and end-users to make sense out of unstructured data, spot trends, and take steps to minimize potentially inimical impacts.

Enterprise 2.0 is going to be will be one hell of a ride.

Now is an exciting—some would say chaotic—time in the technology world. I’d be lying if I wrote that I could predict the future, but I’m hardly going out on a limb by stating that the technology landscape now will look quite a bit different in five years compared to today. The ways that people use technology—and the technologies themselves—are changing as fast as I can write.

Simon Says

Stay tuned. Enterprise 2.0 is going to be will be one hell of a ride.


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  1. Tim

    Like anything in this world.  It comes down to having great people with good tools.  Good people with average tools will get you below average results.  Make sure you have a good team in place before you start looking at tools.

    Intranet Software Consultant


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