In the world of Information Technology, many buzz words and phrases are created everyday. It’s hard to keep up. It’s not only because too many of these words are thrown at us everyday but also because their definitions often change rapidly. One of these phrases is Web 2.0 – which I talked about in my previous article. Now, let me throw you another one of those technology buzz words – Enterprise 2.0.
The term Enterprise 2.0 was coined in the spring of 2006 by Andrew McAfee. As an Associate Professor of Harvard Business School, he studies the ways that IT affects businesses. His research efforts are focused on investigating how IT changes the way companies perform, organize themselves and compete. Andrew McAfee defines Enterprise 2.0 as the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers. It is quite simply the application of many of the Web 2.0 ideas to the enterprise.
AIIM, a non-profit organization that provides education and research, takes this further. According to AIIM, Enterprise 2.0 is a system of web-based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise.
Enterprise 2.0 Adoption
Until now, many firms have yet to recognize the potential advantages Web 2.0 could bring to the business. Traditional command and control management is directly opposed to the distributed and collaborative style advocated in Enterprise 2.0 and there are always a set of rules that discourage change. For this reason, adoption of Enterprise 2.0 tools is happening from the bottom up. Enterprise 2.0 is being brought up gradually by ordinary users. It is uncommon to see adoptions and initiatives – such as establishing a corporate-wide blog or wiki – spearheaded by top management. More often, blogs are started by individuals and small groups in one department as an independent initiative. In some cases, these blogs, social media sites and microblogs succeed and evolve as key components of the corporate internal and external communications arsenal.
Few companies right now are pioneering the use of Web 2.0 platform. One of then them is Sun Microsystems. Sun uses Open Source and Enterprise Social Software to build a YouTube-style portal for social learning. They have implemented a learning environment called Sun Learning Exchange (SLX) to provide training programs to employees and contractors in more than 50 countries. The entire solution was built for $60,000. One week after launch, there were more than 3000 unique visitors and hundreds of unique content were uploaded. The viral rollout strategy proved to be a success and allowed Sun to create more value with less investment in training.
In my article last month, I talked about how Universal Studios used Web 2.0 platform to announce the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter project. They invited seven avid Harry Potter fans to a top secret webcast and informed them about the plans for the new theme park. By word of mouth, these seven people told thousands through emails, internet forums and blogs. Eventually, mainstream media picked up the buzz and wrote about it in magazines, news, and TV reports. In a few days, the news reached millions of people. Universal was able to reach its global audience by first reaching out to a select group of fans through the Internet. They were able to save thousands and perhaps millions in advertising costs.
Enterprise 2.0 Challenges
It is understandable that in spite of the current momentum, Enterprise 2.0 is experiencing strong resistance from business managers. I think the challenge is two-pronged: cultural and structural. There will always be cultural challenges when you are trying to make people work, collaborate and organize in a different way. Companies are so used to the traditional management and coordination style that it’s hard to imagine a quick transition. On the other hand, the Enterprise 2.0 model and its supporting structure also need to strengthen. Experts argue that it’s hard to implement something that has no commonly accepted business model and runs in an immature services landscape. Application management, support, security, ownership and identity are also common challenges being confronted by early implementers.
To be continued…
We already discussed about Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 in two separate articles. We’ve laid out the groundwork. In my next post, we will further explore these topics and talk about how to incorporate cutting-edge Web 2.0 services within the enterprise networks, create internal social networks, blogs, wikis and manage Enterprise 2.0 security and compliance.