Enterprise 2.0 – Giving the Hype a Second Thought

Remember the late ’90s? The Internet boom when every organization worth its name was scrambling for an Internet strategy, presence and initiative. “You have to be on the net or you are toast” was the underlying sentiment. It s very similar these days with the Web 2.0 buzz.

The Internet boom forced organizations to get online and looking back it was much simpler compared to making an organization Web 2.0 ready because this involves understanding of an abstract concept called Enterprise 2.0. Such has been the euphoria around everything 2.0 (Web or Enterprise) that organizations are feeling compelled, driven, pushed to adopt Web 2.0—even if only to say, “Oh, we have a Web 2.0 strategy in place or we are already ‘doing’ Web 2.0.”

While the advantages of Web 2.0 in an organizational context can’t be denied—agility, responsiveness, employee empowerment, improved sharing and collaboration—Enterprise 2.0/Web 2.0 is an abstract concept and organizations need to comprehend and understand this abstract concept and then translate it into corporate reality. This article highlights some of the key points that organizations need to be aware of before embarking on the Enterprise 2.0 journey.

Enterprise 2.0 is an Abstract Concept

Let s face it there is no one definition of Enterprise 2.0. There are several definitions, theories and jargons floating around ranging from pure technology- centric to user-centric. Too often organizations fall into the trap of equating an Enterprise 2.0 strategy to a technology implementation because of the perceptions, and advice from consultants and geeks. While technology is a very critical component of Enterprise 2.0, organizations need to understand that technology alone will not make Enterprise 2.0 successful. Corporate culture, consisting of open communication, trust, honest feedback, sharing of knowledge and self organization, are key enablers and need to be in place before the technology solutions can deliver on the promise of Enterprise 2.0 .

An organization planning an Enterprise 2.0 strategy would benefit if it clearly understands that Enterprise 2.0 is a concept, an abstract concept at best, encompassing several tracks: culture, anthropology, sociology, politics, technology and much more.

Takeaway: An Enterprise 2.0 implementation is not equal to Wiki + Blogs + RSS + other “cool” applications.

Web 2.0 vs. Enterprise 2.0

Most organizations have proponents of Web 2.0 who evangelize and give examples of how it is revolutionizing and transforming the Internet and that their organization should also adopt Web 2.0. Often, one will hear examples of how:

? Tens of thousands of people are mass collaborating to create Wikipedia, without any top down structures and hierarchy; out of their own time and passion.

? Thousands of programmers are contributing to Linux, again without any command and control structures, out of their own time and passion.

? Millions of people are sharing and collaborating on YouTube, Flickr and thousands building mash-ups, add-ons to Amazon, Android and Google.

While these examples are true, it is important to note that all of these have occurred in the Internet space which is much different from corporate space. Blindly buying into these examples without understanding them in detail and trying to replicate them within an organization is a surefire recipe for disaster. The saying “The devil is in the details” is very apt for these examples.

Wikipedia has a very robust and established list of processes and layers of user participation. It has evolved from years of review, moderation, editing and approvals. It is important to know and understand this minor yet important aspect because it is easy to get carried away by the romanticism of idea of tens of thousands of people mass collaborating to create the perfect knowledge base.