Last week was a big news week for Enterprise 2.0. It all started with this report from Oliver Young of Forrester Research stating that nearly one in two businesses will make use of Enterprise 2.0 technologies in 2009.
The Forrester Report was followed up with a post by Dion Hinchcliffe on ZDNet (“The Year of the Shift to Enterprise 2.0”) citing “The tools have arrived. How enterprise knowledge and is created and flows within our organizations is beginning to change dramatically.”
I absolutely hate throwing cold water on a promising data point, but I’m having serious difficulty reconciling these take-aways in the face of a bunch of other findings. Here goes….
The footnote behind Implementation numbers
I’m as much of an Enterprise 2.0 cheerleader as the next guy and I even make a very good living off it. But let’s be honest here. Whilst the report says 1 in 2 companies will deploy some Enterprise 2.0 tool, a more glaring finding is that only 1 in 10 users adopt the tools, once deployed. What good does that do to anyone? “Enterprise 2.0 faces serious risk of fizzling out” should have been a bold warning in the summary of the Forrester report.
A recent teaser of “Intranet 2.0 Global Survey” based on 552 organizations shows that social computing technologies such as social networking and mash-ups have very tepid uptake. Take this comment for instance:
Social media adoption has accelerated on the corporate intranet, led by blogs, wikis and discussion forums. Despite a low cost of entry—often below $10,000—adopters are not reporting outstanding satisfaction with the investment, especially among the executive ranks, driven by inadequate planning and weak or non-existent business plans.
Satisfaction levels with Intranet 2.0 tools is low:
- Only 29% of organizations rate the tool functionality as good or very good; 24% rate them as poor or very poor
- Satisfaction rates with executives is dangerously low: only 23% of executives rate the 2.0 tools as good or very good; 38%% rate them as poor or very poor
Discussion Forums and Wikis driving usage
Discussion Forums and Wikis are some of the technologies that are on top of the heap when it comes to interest.
First, granted that Discussion Forums have evolved, but really, they’ve existed for decades before the advent of Enterprise 2.0. There’s been plenty of momentum behind this social computing technology and Enterprise 2.0 can hardly take credit for generating interest.
Moving on to Wikis. Looking at the evolving vendor landscape, its clear that Wikis have not proven to be a strategic investment and have quickly fallen into the commodity category. See how SocialText, previously a Wiki-only provider has now enrichened its offering with Social Networking and Micro Blogging. Similarly, Atlassian Software’s Confluence 3.0 product (Wiki Software, today) is expected to include Social Networking and Microblogging software.
If achieving an Enterprise 2.0 design for your organization can be executed by Discussion Forums, Blogs and Wikis, congratulations. You’re on your way. To really affect the way partners, suppliers and employees accelerate business activity, it’s going to take a lot more than that and the evolving vendor product offerings is proving this.
Distribution and Adoption
If 2009 is the year of Enterprise 2.0, where are the distribution channels? None of the larger SIs have declared intent or even large scale interest in creating practices, as of this time. I’m not talking about social computing technology distribution (where SaaS can remove the need for traditional SI implementations). I’m referring to Enterprise 2.0 enablement which is much larger than a point solution or a platform implementation. Its the stuff that has to do with business execution and adoption. A new crop of E2.0 consulting firms will emerge to will lead the charge here but that hasn’t happened yet.
Every E2.0 vendor I’ve interacted with is constrained by economic realities when it comes to blowing up a large consulting force that can truly transform their customers into a 2.0 design. The good ones understand the need for this and would love to do it but alas, its not meant to be in the near future.
Last week, I attended the TieCON 2009 event where I had the opportunity to listen and learn from Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit. It was one of the best keynotes I’ve ever sat in on. Amongst other things, Brad talked about how they generated 2,100 new ideas in 15 months by allowing employees to spend 10% of their time generating ideas. Now they may well be using an innovation platform such as Spigit or some combination of open collaborative technologies. But its the organization design and behavior change that made this a reality. Any application used was instrumental I’m sure, but only a piece of the puzzle.
The final proof
I was pretty much done making my case until I saw this excellent write up by Enterprise 2.0 colleague, Susan Scrupski about her thoughts on Sapphire, the SAP conference that explores innovative business solutions. Susan highlights how Enterprise 2.0 was largely sidelined at this important event. Some selected quotes here:
The reality is SAP and its global customer base are just not ready for the socialization of the enterprise. It’s just not a topic that commands attention at this massive event (despite my valiant efforts to bring it up in every executive briefing). The majority of conversations at SAPPHIRE revolve around common themes such as decision-making, analysis, data, spreadsheets, databases, reports, statistics, and business processes. In other words, the real work that goes on in real businesses. Is that surprising? No.
Last year, if I searched on Enterprise 2.0, I’m fairly certain I would have found zero returns for scheduled sessions. That there are two this year is, indeed, progress. Further, the soft language of 2.0 has seeped into SAP’s strategic speak and hopefully, strategic consciousness. Leo Apotheker, SAP’s co-CEO and reigning commander in chief name-dropped a smattering of prevailing social buzzwords in his opening address i.e., transparency, collaboration, trust, and social communities. So, a big high-five from me to the speech writer for positioning SAP as a “we get it.” And, in reality, they do get it. They just haven’t incorporated deep social-collaborative functionality into their product suites (yet). This is about where the majority of large customers are. They “get it.” Some may be even experimenting with it (even if they’re not calling it Enterprise 2.0), but it’s not yet core to their business.
Sure, larger firms take a while to move into new territory but they generally start talking about new concepts early on if they consider them to be strategic to their business and technological roadmap. When one of the worlds largest business software vendors is just about dipping its toes into the E2.0 waters, you have to think about how long social computing deployments are going to remain point solutions and purely emergent before they can be DNA changing in any way.
What the news of last week tells me is that there’s an uptake in social computing technology interest. But Enterprise 2.0? Not by a long shot. Here’s the difference.
I think its time to call out purely emergent implementation models (not that there’s anything wrong with that) vs. strategic use of social computing to achieve open collaborative and transactive work models. Both have their place. But only the latter leads to an Enterprise, destined to achieve a 2.0 design.
By the way, if any of this is important to you, consider coming to the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston next month where I expect such topics to be discussed at length. Use this link for a 30% discount.
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