Open Opportunities for the People Powered Enterprise

I read, with great interest, an interview with Jeff Clavier of SoftTechVC in Network World. Jeff’s had notable successes in the consumer world (Mint, MyBlogLog, and Userplane). I’ve never interacted with Jeff (other than recommending a Dim Sum Restaurant on Twitter) but I’ve always had respect for him – unlike many others, he’s adequately self deprecating when it comes to his passing on an opportunity to invest in LinkedIn. : -)

On the topic of Enterprise Software, Jeff says:

Most of SoftTech’s investments have so far been in the consumer space. “Innovation is slower on the enterprise side,” Clavier claims, and “beset by security issues.” “It’s a mature market with only a few acquirers; sales are more difficult and investors have little leverage when there are so few buyers. Low cost, consumer applications that leverage the Web offer capital efficiencies not matched on the enterprise side – and they are fun to work with.”

I’ve had conversations with scores of CEOs of traditional and Enterprise 2.0 companies on this topic. I’m still sticking with my analysis of over a year ago about Commoditization that’s partly due to a lack of focus on process and context, too much reliance on nebulous measures such as productivity and little alignment with tasks at hand. That’s played out with CubeTree’s purchase for $20 million. Anemic by Enterprise standards.

But leverage is coming. I’ve been reading a galley copy of The New Polymath by Vinnie Mirchandani, due out later this summer, and its clear how enterprise application infrastructure, based on customer expectations is ripe for a re-haul. It’s not just about the cloud and its also not just about SaaS vs On Premise business apps. Simpler, better, faster-to-update ways of GTD in context, and in a way that connects people, are about to hit. And that opens up organic as well as M&A opportunities on the technology supply side.

There’s quite a few opportunities’ that are large enough to have significant impact, but I’m going to touch on a few areas I see when talking to end customers, discounted by the pace of innovation, to date.

  • Decision Facilitation: Yes, in-person meetings and email are time consuming, expensive and often un productive. The answer is not to simply move those to digital interactions powered by Enterprise 2.0. That’s a first step. But that can also mean moving the same unproductive discussions to a digital platform and arguably more of them since its less time consuming. We still need to wrap a decision facilitation layer around it to drive better results. OpenAPIs, activity streams, data and document access all in context is where its at.
  • Exception Handling: Somewhere between your Enterprise 2.0 platform and your structured employee, partner and supplier processes, lies a wide open gap. It’s a myth that we can get by with process laden technology since it solves 70%, 80& 90% of repeatable process tasks. The other 10%, 20%, 30% is where things can go horribly wrong and cost millions. Weaving in a social fabric to deal with those exceptions to standard process outcomes is barely tapped today.
  • CRM 2.0 (or socialCRM) is DOA with Enterprise 1.0. You can have the most sophisticated customer community but remember, prospects and customers are looking to bypass marketing and talk to experts deep inside your org and partner ecosystem. You cant have a vibrant and successful community if you’re rely on a 1990s style latency riddled, portal/intranet/extranet inside the firm. Even a “facebook for the enterprise” that cant methodically wrap around real time customer interaction demands is but a first step.
  • Performance: I joined a panel on SugarCRM’s SugarCon event last month with Esteban Kolsky, Jeremiah Owyang and Diogo Rebelo where we discussed who owns Social  Data in the enterprise. Traditional BI tools extract results from structured data systems. New performance applications will blend social and analytical data to improve discrete business performance outcomes  – HR and Talent, Spend Management, Communication Performance. Etc. Ultimately moving from “here’s the report” to “here’s what to do about the data”.

Each of these can spawn vastly different value propositions for end customers.

Jeff’s spot on when he talks about simple consumer constructs starting to influence how Enterprise users interact with people and data. And all of the opportunities, above, will expect this as a price of entry. The big consideration though for large mature enterprises will be to avoid siloed efforts and the need to form a central collaborative back bone that’s still flexible enough to show concrete improvement around specific business tasks (sales, marketing, innovation, etc). Last month, Oliver Marks and I  presented at Interop on Performance Acceleration via Enterprise 2.0 and this was further validated by a very mature audience of technology managers and executives.

I’m expecting to have a lot of interesting conversations on this topic over the next few weeks. Tomorrow I head to SAP SAPPHIRE, then to the International Forum on Enterprise 2.0 in Milan where I’ll be talking about 21st Century Enterprises and the Role of Social, and finally at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston where were going to be focusing on business value of E2.0.

I’ll update this post after I’ve processed what I learn.

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Sometimes it is difficult for professionals not to focus on the version of innovation (2.0, 3.0 etc) or naming that innovation or progression of events.There is a new paradigm that prompts people to become good direct communicators or good direc marketers. Those companies and professionals that were proficient in understanding through listening will thrive and evolve. Others will come of age in time and some will perish.


As the person who coined the term 'decision facilitation' I'd love to expand your definition a bit. When I defined/coined the term, I was refering to helping the Other define and recognize all of the internal, unconscious issues they need to address to get appropriate buy-in from the elements in their system that are in any way attached to maintaining the status quo. I have several models and skill sets that you can use to help do this - none of which are conventional and all involve a new form of question I developed called a Facilitative Question, that follows the path of decision sequencing that brains normally take - so it's possible to expand choices while maintaining the integrity of the underlying system. So we are actually FACILITATING all of the DECISION issues that must be addressed -- many of which are unconscious. I hope this helps. It sounds more complicated than necessary, but only because it's not quite the same as commonly used words. Contact me at if you want more details, or sharon drew (morgen)


  1. […] and line individuals to truly drive performance. And for that, we need a strategically designed collaborative fabric that can locate the right people to group together to leverage this real time data, facilitate the […]

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