Enterprise 2.0-Change Is On The Way

November 1, 2007

By Steve Wylie

There has been much talk recently about Web 2.0 tools, mostly in the consumer market with companies and products such as MySpace, Flickr, Wikipedia, and YouTube. In 2006, professor Andrew McAfee of the Harvard Business School coined the term “Enterprise 2.0” to describe the principles of Web 2.0 in a business context, defining it as “the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.”

Professor McAfee established his six “SLATES” to describe the key attributes of Enterprise 2.0 technologies. SLATES stands for Search, something we’re all intimately familiar with; Links, which concludes that the most-linked-to information must therefore be the most relevant; Authoring, which fundamentally says everyone has something to contribute; Tags, which provide emergent categorization of content; Extensions, which use algorithms to find user patterns and make recommendations; and Signals, which alert users of new content and updates. My paraphrasing really doesn’t do McAfee’s SLATES justice but hopefully provides a basic understanding of his principles and insight into why social computing tools and technologies such as wikis, RSS, tagging, and presence will play an increasingly important role to the future enterprise.

Enterprise 2.0 tools are a direct response to a much-needed change in our business communication and productivity tools. Our Enterprise 1.0 systems are largely built around e-mail, a tool that was never intended for such demands. Certainly there are other business applications that have yielded mixed success, but I’ll pick on e-mail at the moment since it is the most widely used — or perhaps misused — business application, despite its many shortcomings.

We have become addicted to e-mail in a sort of love-hate relationship. We check our e-mail obsessively yet dread the ceaseless flow of messages to our in-boxes and, of course, the endless spam. We struggle to find relevant information buried in an e-mail or question whether the right people are copied on a thread. E-mail is a closed communication medium that does a poor job of capturing and sharing knowledge, a key ingredient to success in any business and a key feature of Enterprise 2.0.

Enterprise 2.0 tools offer a chance to break our e-mail addiction and our reliance on other Enterprise 1.0 applications. These tools unlock new value in the form of transparent, contextual communication; ease of access to information; and more effective use of data trapped inside applications, on desktops, or embedded in e-mail attachments. They allow us to capture the knowledge and opinions trapped in the minds of our knowledge workers through simple participation. The early adopters of Enterprise 2.0 tools and concepts are finding them both powerful and liberating.

But with any new technology, user adoption is the key to success. This could not hold truer than with Enterprise 2.0 tools. Their ease of use certainly will help with user adoption, but there must still be a willingness to break a decades-old addiction to e-mail. There must also be a willingness to work more transparently and in more public forums with the use of wikis, tags, or blogs. For these reasons the shift to Enterprise 2.0 is as much about enabling the right business culture as it is about providing the right tools for users. The shift to Enterprise 2.0 will also happen organically, over time. As new generations enter the workforce, they will expect and demand a Web 2.0 experience from their business applications. This generation is more accustomed to IM and Facebook than to e-mail or restrictive business applications. They have embraced transparency, sharing information, and participating willingly in public, digital conversations.

All of this presents both a challenge and an opportunity for businesses. These changes are taking place often unbeknownst to IT and with little regard for company IT policies and controls. This presents an alarming reality for companies with potentially sensitive information or in heavily regulated environments. IT is faced with bringing some level of control and aligning Enterprise 2.0 with corporate policy while not stifling the benefits that Enterprise 2.0 tools can yield. Striking that delicate balance is a key ingredient to success with Enterprise 2.0 and is sure to be a subject for much continued discussion and debate.

But the role of IT can and should not just be reactionary, shoring up and adapting to changes already under way. IT is held more accountable to tangible business results than ever before. There is a real opportunity for IT to drive the Enterprise 2.0 agenda as a strategic advantage and with adherence to corporate policy. This will become easier as business-grade Web 2.0 tools continue to reach the market and best practices are established. New vendors are emerging in droves to address this need, providing all the functionality of Web 2.0 tools, but with the security, integration, and scalability required for commercial deployment. Existing software platforms and tools are also rising to meet these new demands, adding Web 2.0 features and functionality while providing a bridge from our familiar business-grade applications.

A race is ensuing that will include incumbent and startup vendors alike. If the consumer market for Web 2.0 tools is any indication, we are in store for some radical changes ahead, with new rules, new technology leaders, and most certainly new efficiencies and value from our business applications and knowledge workers than we’ve ever seen before. Brace yourself for the shift to Enterprise 2.0.

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The state of Enterprise 2.0

November 1, 2007

by Dion Hinchcliffe

Industry analysts, CIOs, and business leaders around the world are continuing to try to read the industry tea leaves in 2007 when it comes to the subject of Enterprise 2.0, the increasingly popular discussion of using Web 2.0 platforms in the workplace. The primary topic of interest? Whether Enterprise 2.0 brings real bang for the buck by making the daily work of organizations measurably more productive, efficient, and innovative. Investors and executives are just not going to make significant bets on Enterprise 2.0 in terms of resources and risk exposure without good information on the likely returns of implementation.

Up until recently, the lack of mature Enterprise 2.0 products, good case studies, and feedback from early experiences that successfully dealt with some of the challenges that these frequently disruptive and occasionally subversive tools introduced. This immature state of affairs was often holding back even corporate pilots of highly promising candidate Enterprise 2.0 technologies such as enterprise blogs, wikis, and even mashups.

However, increasing evidence abounds that Enterprise 2.0 adoption has begun in earnest with a typical example being Wells Fargo taking the plunge, having rolled out Enterprise 2.0 platforms to 160,000 workers. It has become clear that we’re moving out of the early pioneer phase to a broader acceptance phase. From the production side, a brand new analysis indicates that the business social software market will be nearly $1 billion strong this year and over $3.3 billion by 2011. In these and other ways, such as the growing collection of success stories, Enterprise 2.0 has arrived.

The big question for many of those on the fence now is: 1) Do we now have the right capabilities in terms of ready Enterprise 2.0 products? And 2) Do we generally understand how to apply them properly to obtain good returns on our investment in them? Knowing the answers to both questions will almost certainly tell us if we’re ready for mainstream adoption of adoption of Enterprise 2.0 any time soon.

Enterprise 2.0 redux

Professor Andrew McAfee of Harvard Business School famously introduced the term and concepts behind Enterprise 2.0 last year and it’s had a heady ride across the industry and in the press ever since. Initially defined by McAfee as “the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers”, the broader global community has attempt to expand, reinvent, and co-opt Enterprise 2.0 with varying degrees of success. But the essential, core meaning has largely stayed the same: Social applications that are optional to use, free of unnecessary structure, highly egalitarian, and support many forms of data.

McAfee even coined a menmonic to make it easy for everyone to remember what appeared to be the key aspects of these social platforms. Called SLATES, it was an easy checklist to verify that the tools you were considering had the right essential ingredients. Under this initial definition Web 2.0 poster children blogs and wikis were identified as Enterprise 2.0 platforms (provided that they provided reasonable support for SLATES) as well as more sophisticated tools such as prediction markets and even vertical business applications like customer directed taxi cab dispatching were given as early examples of richer Enterprise 2.0 applications.

Examples platforms that failed to make the cut as Enterprise 2.0 because they didn’t have the qualities that were believed to be important for business business outcomes? These included most corporate intranets and portals, most groupware, as well as e-mail and “classic” instant messaging. Why? They either didn’t provide access to a voice for workers to communicate and collaborate with or they didn’t create results that were persistent and globally visible. In the end, Enterprise 2.0 takes most of the potent ideas of Web 2.0, user generated content, peer production, and moves them into the workplace.

Did the original articulation of Enterprise 2.0 have the right focus and point us in the best direction? And has the conception of it evolved from this vision to reflect that which we’ve learned along the way? Going back again to our two questions that will inform us as to the state of Enterprise 2.0; what have learned from our experiences with the early platforms and initial rollouts of Enterprise 2.0 and what does it teach us?

state of Enterprise 2.0 – Fall 2007

Here is what appears to be what we’ve learned about Enterprise 2.0 up to this point in time. There is of course no way to make this list complete though I believe it covers most of the big lessons. Also, entirely in the spirit of Enterprise 2.0 itself, I strongly encourage that you add anything that you think I’ve left out in TalkBack below or in a link from your own blog.

Lesson #1: Enterprise 2.0 is going to happen in your organization with you or without you. Enterprise 2.0 is now happening on its own in many organizations and it’s up to the business and IT to not so much take control but to enable it with things such as effective enterprise search and which helps prevent silos and duplicate, yet unsynchronized data from forming.

Lesson #2: Effective Enterprise 2.0 seems to involve more than just blogs and wikis. The discussion often starts with these simple freeform tools but should progress beyond this to other platforms that are better for specific situations such as enterprise mashups which enable for user-created Web applications what enterprise blogs and wikis for user-created content and structure. Predictive market products such as HP’s BRAIN platform and online innovation facilitators such as Innocentive are other potentially more sophisticated examples of Enterprise 2.0 platforms. Social bookmarking is also starting to gain speed in the enterprise as way of providing a rich information discovery mechanism internally.

Lesson #3: Enterprise 2.0 is more a state of mind than a product you can purchase. While a widely covered report from Forrester earlier this year clearly showed that CIOs would prefer to buy one single Enterprise 2.0 suite instead of cobbling together a combination of point solutions for blogging, wikis, RSS consumption, and social networking, the reality is that even the best Enterprise 2.0 suites will be missing key pieces for a long time. To get decent returns from Enterprise 2.0 implementations, organizations will require really good enterprise search, access to enterprise data from within Enterprise 2.0 tools, the ability to create mashups at a low level to the more sophisticated Enterprise 2.0-style products at a higher level. That’s not to say an Enterprise 2.0 suite such as SuiteTwo or Microsoft SharePoint can’t form the core of your Enterprise 2.0 strategy, but other products and integration work will be required to make it provide real business results in your local IT environment. This will include products that will make your Enterprise 2.0 suite support single sign-on, work in your portal environment, provide management and moderation controls, as well as integrate with your ECM and other traditional enterprise platforms.

In other words, by the time you’ve installed, configured, customized, and integrated all of the ingredients you’ve brought together, if you’ve lost sight of the specific reasons why Enterprise 2.0 is supposed to work better, your effort will have been in vain. I see this often when Enterprise 2.0 projects don’t provide, say, read access to RSS feed readers to workers or fail to make it easy to create a blog post or wiki page from the Intranet and a dozen other minor decisions made on top of the Enterprise 2.0 tools selected, yet contrary to their spirit and that will be significantly detrimental to the outcome. Best advice: Clearly understand the benefits of these news tools and ideas and then do your very best to ensure they aren’t negated.

Lesson #4: Most businesses still need to educate their workers on the techniques and best practices of Enterprise 2.0 and social media. Just like the previous generation of workers received computer literacy classes en masse and learned how to use business productivity applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, and email, the same will be required for the current generation of workers and Enterprise 2.0. The hurdle is making sure that workers have a clear understanding of the specific techniques of how to apply Enterprise 2.0 tools to their daily work. Social media information formats such as project status wiki pages to departmental news blogs are still foreign to most workers today and proactive worker education will be required to make sure the investments in Enterprise 2.0 are being appropriately reaped.

Lesson #5: The benefits of Enterprise 2.0 can be dramatic, but only builds steadily over time. One major benefit of the open, globally visible information in Enterprise 2.0 platforms is that organizational retention of knowledge actually begins to accrue on a wide scale. But it’s a continuous, linear build-up and almost never a sudden and pronounced business benefit. Adoption and habits also take time to form and it’s quite typical to see 6 months go by before significant activity begins to take place in the Enterprise 2.0 platforms in an organization. Do not expect big immediate wins but carefully measure your rollouts and make sure their network effect is being established. Particularly if your tools aren’t following SLATES, and many platforms, such as SharePoint often don’t follow SLATES by default, then growth and uptake can require a great deal of work. But like compound interest, it doesn’t take forever to begin achieving respectable results on a regular basis and all the best rollouts we’ve seen have given their Enterprise 2.0 strategies the time and support to work organically.

Lesson #6: Enterprise 2.0 doesn’t seem to put older IT systems out of business. In fact, this seems to never have happened. In fact, instead of competition, enabling connections to existing IT systems can provide significant benefits and allowing reports, views, and documents to be hosted by or connected to Enterprise 2.0 tools and can help make sure that there isn’t another silo of content in the organization. Having a blog post on the budget for FY 07 with the actual current numbers being displayed in an HTML table live from an RSS feed from the budget system is an example of this. In this way, Enterprise 2.0 seems to work better when it lives in close contact with existing IT systems than in isolation. The biggest impact of this lesson is that these new tools are so different and generally support such different types of knowledge than usually captured, that impact to existing systems seems to be minimal. Interestingly, you might see a decrease in the use of e-mail or ECM when the conversations that formerly happened on those platforms make a more natural home in Enterprise 2.0 platforms.

Lesson #7: Your organization will begin to change in new ways because of Enterprise 2.0. Be ready. Beyond simple productivity gains, other sorts of more subtle returns often accrue around Enterprise 2.0. McAfee has recently noted that these types of tools tend to create many more links between workers and different groups in an organization and that these types of links tend to provide better benefits than the stronger, more frequent links between organizational entities and individual workers. For this reason and others, Enterprise 2.0 platforms seem to foster a new type of collaboration that exhibits more innovation, creativity, and cross pollination. And because these tools are generally so freeform, they will regularly be used in ways they were never originally intended. Blogs and wikis in particularly can be put to just about any use in terms of accumulating knowledge and collaborating over a network and increasing I’ve seen Enterprise 2.0 initiatives finding them being used in entirely unexpected ways. Enterprise 2.0 enables a rich canvas for workers to think about and construct their information landscape and anything is possible.

Conclusion

It’s still quite useful to read Nine ideas for IT managers considering Enterprise 2.0. Almost exactly a year later, all the advice still rings true despite what we’ve learned in the interim. Nevertheless, we’re just now beginning down the road of Enterprise 2.0 and an enormous amount has yet to be learned. The increasing pervasiveness of the tools and knowledge of Enterprise 2.0 will continue to have a growing impact on our businesses for better and worse. Success stories will continue to emerge as well as the first major issues such as information spills, IP theft, and other potential problems when so much critical business information is made so much more leveragable. How to access the benefits while minimizing the risks will continue to be a major topc in the Enterprise 2.0 community.

In the meantime, I’d like to try an experiment and extend the SLATES mnemonic a bit. My biggest issue in using it in its present form to communicate Enterprise 2.0 is that it doesn’t itself capture the social, emergent, and freeform aspects that we know are so essential and so I’ve added these. I know SLATES is supposed to be capability based but it also needs to convey the intended outcomes clearly, and social capability in particular is missing. Thus, I’ve used an anagram generator to create another (hopefully) pithy mnemonic, FLATNESSES, which itself captures yet another important aspect of Enterprise 2.0, its egalitarian nature. FLATNESSES is depicted in the diagram below containing these three key aspects added to SLATES as well as a fourth which I discuss below. I hope you find this a useful conception to discuss the vital elements of Enterprise 2.0 in your efforts and would love your feedback.

Finally, I’ve also added one more capability to the new mnemonic, network-oriented, to reflect that all these aspect of Enterprise 2.0 must apply not only to applications that are fundamentally delivered over a network but that their content be fully Web-oriented, addressable, and reusable. The atomization and portability of information, such as what RSS has enabled, has been vital to the successful growth of communities like the blogosphere and one vital point about Enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0 that many organizations don’t yet fully understand: Our enterprises are NOT the Web. And to get the full benefits of the Web 2.0 era, we must begin adapting our organizations and their information and IT resources (with suitable enterprise context) to this network-oriented model that has worked so for us globally on the Internet these last 15 years.

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Significant workplace inroads for Enterprise 2.0?

November 1, 2007

By Dion Hinchcliffe

According to a random poll I recently conducted on Facebook, just over a quarter of 300 respondents — 27% of them in all — answered in the affirmative that they are provided with an easy way at work to post on a blog or put information on a wiki. I often ask this same question to gatherings of people whenever I get the chance these days and have been getting roughly the same answer for the last few months. Businesses are apparently starting to take Web 2.0 for a more serious spin.

A year ago, accessibility to blogs and wikis in the workplace was less than half this number in my informal sampling. The growth trend seems clear and appears to be increasing. So while this data might be fairly unscientific, I suspect the number is pretty accurate, and social media, aka Enterprise 2.0, is finally making some measurable inroads in the workplace despite a few open concerns about these mediums.

Facebook as a measure of social media in the general workplace?

Of course, Facebook users in general are probably more digitally literate than the average population, will look for blogs and wikis on the local Intranet to use, and thus some say they may be more likely to gravitate to workplaces and jobs that would provide an environment with familiar tools. However, one odd breakdown in the demographics of the poll is that the youngest group, 18-24 year-olds, reported the least access to social media. Perhaps it’s because this group also includes a great deal of students or that entry level workers don’t have as much computer access as workers farther up in the hierarchy.

Poll respondents were also pretty sure when they weren’t being provided with these tools with only 21% reporting that they didn’t know if they were being offered them. A whopping 52%, just over half, said that they had no social media tools offered to them in a way they could access.

The poll question was also carefully posed to uncover if tools were being “brought in the back door” by workers using the hundreds of free social media platforms out in the Web with their browser at work, or if the workplace itself was providing enterprise blogs and wikis. In my opinion, this makes the 27% “yes” number almost surprisingly high. But, while some respondents may not have parsed the question clearly, the trend is strong enough to stand on it’s own:

Blogs and wikis may finally be seeing fairly widespread “business approved” adoption in the workplace.

Getting good business outcomes from social media while managing downside

While blogs and wikis continue to show the potential to greatly improve collaboration, create higher levels of knowledge retention, and generate more reusable business information over time, it’s also probable that in attempts to access the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 platforms, these new platforms will incur some issues that IT departments and the business will have to deal with, particularly if these platforms are exposed outside the organization.

What are the business benefits and issues of social media? The diagram above depicts the world of traditional software and native PC applications with expanding access to the “2.0″ generation of new software models and platforms. Here’s a more detailed run down of the pros and cons that will have to be balanced in most organizations when deciding on providing access to these types of social media tools to their workers.

Notes: Social media is just one important aspect of Enterprise 2.0, but the one most likely to see near-term, widespread adoption. Also, the diagram above clearly shows the social media is a new aspect to the enterprise and will more likely to enhance existing IT systems over time rather than replace them outrighte with the possible exception of enterprise content management.

Reported social media in the workplace benefits:

  • More ad hoc collaboration between employees who can find each other’s work and team together.
  • More globally persistent, discoverable business information is made available over time.
  • Social media tends to capture more institutional knowledge that’s reusable.
  • A deep hyperlink infrastructure begins to form, built by continuously by workers using social media. tools to forge links, making business information more discoverable.
  • Tagging and other emergent organization methods allow business information to be organized and cross-referenced from every point of view.
  • More efficient access to information as more business information becomes available internally and externally via syndication.
  • Potentially higher levels of innovation and productivity as more previously unavailable enterprise thinking is available to be accessed, repurposed, and built on top of.
  • Increased efficiency in conversations: social media scales up to mostly resource and time friendly conversations among thousands of asynchronous participants, yet excludes those uninterested in them, unlike e-mail distribution lists and conference calls.

Reported social media in the workplace issues:

  • Productivity: Users employing social media tools for non-productive purposes such as socializing.
  • Security: Information that should be under tight control appearing on publicly via social media, either accidentally or intentionally.
  • Control: The level of control over what appears on an organization’s Intranet will decrease with the rise in use of social media, for better or worse. Also note that unlike e-mail, control of social media can be more successfully retroactive.
  • Outcomes: Ensuring that social media tools are generated pre-defined, specific goals is difficult when the the extremely freeform platforms of social media can be used for everything from managing projects to tracking a department’s fantasy football game.
  • Another silo: Right now social media is primarily a consumer-side invention, like many aspects of Web 2.0. Consequently, most enterprise blogs and wikis don’t have good access to feeds of enterprise data and this can encourage cut-and-paste publishing of information from traditional enterprise IT systems into social media, creating another silo of data.
  • Trust: How can the usefulness of the content in social media platforms be trusted. The Web has partially solved this with techniques such as inbound link counting, but reputation and voting systems are starting to appear, often as plug-ins such as the highly capable new comment and reputation add-on release from Intense Debate, for social media tools. Despite this, until the tools become mature, trust will likely continue to be an issue for many uses of social media in the workplace.
  • Not-enterprise ready. I’ve talked plenty about the enterprise context for blogs and wikis last year. The good news, many of these issues are starting to be addressed in the latest crop of Enterprise 2.0/social media offerings.

I’ll continue to run this poll on a periodic basis going forward and see what we can learn about the adoption of social media in the workplace. In the meantime, please share your stories about blogs and wikis at work in Talkbalk below.

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RightNow, Demandware Mash Up CRM, E-Commerce

October 30, 2007

RightNow and Demandware have developed a new mash-up that integrates the former’s CRM and customer service offerings with the latter’s e-commerce suite.

The result is an application that incorporates product content management and promotion with such interaction functionality as click-to-chat, while marrying order-tracking and management functions to the agent desktop.

Specifically, the new application connects RightNow’s service, marketing and sales applications with Demandware’s Web platform and e-commerce services.

RightNow’s contributions to the mash-up are its inbound and outbound sales and service desktop, multichannel customer service, marketing communications and customer feedback capabilities.

Demandware is providing its online storefront, site search, guided navigation, product catalog and promotions, Web development environment, user profiles and online content.

Suite Approach

On one hand, this mash-up can be viewed as a shortcut to bringing a suite application to market, as it eliminates much of the work involved in developing one from the ground up.

However, it is a mistake to assume that RightNow or Demandware have joined forces in such a manner strictly for competitive reasons, Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone told CRM Buyer — specifically with a vendor like NetSuite, the top online suite provider offering deep CRM functionality.

“RightNow rarely goes up against NetSuite in deals,” Kingstone said. “Also, RightNow’s target audience is larger than NetSuite’s.”

Rather, the larger point behind the mash-up is that it is emblematic of RightNow’s MO of automating integration around the customer experience.

The territory that Demandware owns — namely the order management process — is a critical integration point that RightNow has thus far not touched.

“Unfortunately, it is only offering this integration for the Demandware customer base,” Kingstone said.

Integrating the Online Channel

Later this year, the two companies plan to cross-sell and upsell the joint application to their respective installed bases, Scott Todaro, director of product and industry marketing at Demandware, told CRM Buyer. There is little overlap among the two firms’ clients.

There are no concrete plans, however, to embed the joint functionality in future releases of the respective applications. It may be, though, that the mash-up is enough to satisfy users’ needs — at least in the immediate term.

The driver behind the joint application is the growing necessity of integrating the online channel into back-office functions, explained David Hayden, director of product strategy for RightNow. That’s especially relevant as more companies rip out their legacy systems and replace them with SOA (service-oriented architecture)-based applications.

Vendors and their customers alike, Hayden told CRM Buyer, “are really looking to connect the various business units around solid, go-to-market strategies.”

Kingstone echoed that prediction — at least in terms of the mash-up service providing a faster time-to-market vehicle.

“The future of software will focus on mash-ups like these,” she said. “At bottom, they are all about breaking down the barrier posed by integration.”

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Growing Pains: Can Web 2.0 Evolve Into An Enterprise Technology?

October 30, 2007

By Andy Dornan

Forget outsourcing. the real threat to IT pros could be Web 2.0. While there’s a lot of hype and hubris surrounding wikis, mashups, and social networking, there’s also a lot of real innovation–much of it coming from increasingly tech-savvy business users, not the IT department.

“We’ve cut IT staff by 20%, and we’re providing a whole lot more in terms of IT services,” says Ken Harris, CIO at nutritional products manufacturer Shaklee. Harris started with a mashup platform from StrikeIron; he found mashups such an effective way to integrate multiple Web services that he turned to Web-based service providers to replace in-house functions. Now, Shaklee gets its ERP from Workday and search from Visual Sciences, and it’s looking at other IT functions that software as a service can replace.

And Web 2.0 means more than just SaaS. Though the term is often abused, all the various technologies, products, and sites grouped together as “Web 2.0” do have one thing in common: interactivity. Web 2.0 is designed for two-way communication. At the technical level, it replaces static HTML with (usually) JavaScript apps that continually send and receive small chunks of XML or text. At the social level, it means Web sites that let people communicate, not just read or shop. Instead of passive consumers, Web surfers can become active creators.

All that interactivity ought to make Web 2.0 ideally suited for business use. Most workplaces are about production, not consumption. However, enterprises lag far behind consumers in adoption of Web 2.0 technologies. What’s more, our online poll shows that interest in technologies such as blogs, wikis, and mashups has gone down during 2007, despite explosive growth outside the firewall.

Part of the reason is that business users already have access to more sophisticated versions of the same technologies. Blogging is publishing, a wiki is a CMS (content management system), and Ajax is a more standardized way of achieving what many internal enterprise apps already do with ActiveX or Java. Now, that doesn’t mean new technologies can be ignored–their lower costs and simpler administration mean they will quickly overtake legacy platforms, and already have done so in some areas. But it does mean they need to fit in with their predecessors.

WIKI WISH LIST
“It’s awful having an artificial distinction between a wiki and a CMS,” says Aaron Hathaway, CIO at investment bank Prager, Sealy & Co. In common with most of the users in our poll, he sees wikis as having greater use within enterprises than other Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs. Wikis’ other big attraction is that, in keeping with their collaborative nature, almost all of them are free.

Hathaway started using wikis four years ago to manage the IT department’s internal documentation, but soon saw that the technology could be more widely applicable. In 2005, he decided to roll out TWiki, a popular enterprise wiki whose other users include Yahoo and British Telecom.

It was a decision Hathaway came to regret in fairly short order.

... In With The New: Are these tools very important or critical to your organization?

The problem was that TWiki couldn’t easily share data with Alfresco, the bank’s open source CMS. Users who needed information had to look in both, while those adding documents risked duplicating effort. The bank didn’t want to give up on either, so Hathaway turned instead to Deki Wiki, which is also open source but backed by a commercial vendor, MindTouch. Deki’s Web services API eases integration with other applications. “It means a Google map can show up on a Deki page, and we’re building an über-search,” he says. “In my ideal setup, Deki would be a front end to Alfresco.” The API also lets the wiki use the bank’s existing security architecture to limit user access to specific pages, important for preserving the wall between analysis and sales. According to Hathaway, the wiki is now providing a real return on investment.

A wiki is easier to use than a full CMS, but on its own it can’t yet provide some CMS functionality, such as working with documents and files. This has led several wikis to add extension capabilities, such as Deki Wiki’s API. TWiki also has a plug-in system that lets programmers extend it without editing source code; more than 200 modules are already available to cover applications such as calendaring and automated editing. The most ambitious is IBM’s QEDWiki, which aims to be a platform for user-created mashups and other simple applications, rather than just content. The mashup aspect empowers users even more than the “edit” button and also helps integrate the wiki with IBM’s other applications.

Still, companies like Prager, Sealy can’t abandon their content management systems just yet, and the most popular collaboration platform remains Microsoft SharePoint. SharePoint also is at the center of Microsoft’s online Office Live strategy, best described as “software plus service.” Rather than a Google-style suite of online apps that would compete with its own products, Microsoft sells SharePoint and Outlook as services, with a subset of the full functionality soon to be available at no cost. Users still need a client-side application to edit documents, theoretically giving them the best of both worlds–and preserving Microsoft’s Office revenue stream.

A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE NETWORK?
Of all Web 2.0 technologies, social networking is the one that gets vendors and venture capitalists most excited. At least 17 startups are pitching social networking technology to business customers (see table, Social Networking Technology Startups), while countless social networking Web sites are chasing individual users. But it’s also the one about which our readers are most skeptical: When asked to rate the value of technologies, 68% say that public social networking sites are of no use at all. Only 5% rate any kind of social networking as very useful.

Still, one type of company finds these public sites very exciting: recruiters.

“We have great expectations for Facebook,” says Jason Blessing, general manager of the small and midsize business division at recruitment service provider Taleo. “The thing we really like is that it has a heritage from the top universities, and it’s a place where the Gen Y’s or millennials like to hang out.” His company rolled out a Web service that its SMB customers use to advertise jobs through Facebook’s API, letting users recommend their friends (or friends of friends of friends) for specific positions.

Rather than joining the big social networking sites, many enterprises are trying to compete with them. Though few respondents to our poll have yet added social networking to their Web sites, many of the startups pitching the technology have scored big-name customers. The media industry is particularly well-represented among clients of companies like KickApps and Leverage Software, with newspapers and TV stations trying to find a way to keep their audiences interested. The panic is driven by surveys showing that people under 24 prefer user-generated content and connections with others over traditional media.

Other enterprises can benefit from setting up social networks as a means to communicate with customers–and let customers communicate with one another. The big question for enterprises: Do we buy dedicated social networking technology or wait until it becomes a standard feature of Web servers and hosting services?

THE SEARCH FOR A BUSINESS CASE
As the table below shows, startups differ widely in how they sell their technology, or in some cases, give it away. The majority have SaaS business models, but some sell software or appliances. Free services can seem attractive, but in most cases vendors retain ownership of users’ data, something that could threaten both trade secrets and customer privacy. This is a particular risk given the likely fate of at least some startups–privacy policies and contractual obligations don’t always survive bankruptcy and liquidation. Though they all try to sell to enterprises, some vendors such as Pringo Networks and Kick Apps are finding that their largest market is niche sites, where social networking is an end in itself. These sites are essentially in the media business, with business models based on selling ads. They’re betting that users will ultimately be more loyal to sites narrowly focused on an industry, sports team, or hobby than a giant network that anyone can join. The relatively few vendors focused on social networking for use within an enterprise intranet, such as Awareness Networks and Tacit, often provide these features as part of a larger Web 2.0 suite that includes blogs and wikis.

When database vendor Endeca wanted to roll out a social networking site aimed at customers and system integrators, it rejected off-the-shelf software in favor of a homegrown system. Though enthusiastic about social networking for customers, Endeca isn’t convinced it has a role to play internally. “We’re still holding off on what the ROI is for our own employees,” says Colby Dyeff, Endeca’s IT manager. “It’s hard to say if that’s a valuable use of their time.”

Many of Endeca’s contributors are system integrators selling their expertise, giving them a direct financial incentive to be highly rated. But the same lessons can apply to social networks elsewhere, where rating content is also a way to help people find others with similar interests or locate related information. The former isn’t of much use within an enterprise, but the latter could be, especially given the poor state of enterprise search compared with the big Internet search engines.

This kind of tagging isn’t strictly social networking, so it’s usually described as social bookmarking, based more on Del.icio.us than MySpace. It’s a big part of Connectbeam’s social networking appliance, as well as new Web 2.0 platforms from IBM and BEA Systems. IBM’s system is called Dogear, part of its larger Lotus Connections suite that also includes blogs, wikis, and shared workspaces. BEA’s entry, AquaLogic Pathways, is sold alongside its Pages and Ensemble mashup tools. Both products are relatively new, as is the concept of enterprise social bookmarking itself.

Relatively few vendors are pushing full-scale social networking for intranets. Of those that are, Visible Path is the most ambitious. Its service tries to span the extranet as well as intranet, linking staff to contacts within other organizations as well as their own. Its pitch is heavily oriented toward sales staffers, who can use social networking as a way to reach prospects, as is its own go-to-market strategy: Rather than sell directly to enterprises, it prefers to go through partners like Oracle and Salesforce.com, whose CRM systems its social networking is integrated with. Most people won’t join a social network just so that salespeople can contact them, of course, so Visible Path emphasizes its security and privacy controls at both the individual and corporate levels. Users can decide what sort of introductions they want to receive, while companies can override employee choices. That might seem to make Visible Path impractical as a sales tool, since blocking unsolicited sales pitches is a no-brainer. According to its users, however, this isn’t necessarily the case.

“People don’t have to be users to be accessed through it,” says Rod Morris, VP of business information solutions at LexisNexis. Morris uses the tool to promote his company’s ExecRelate service, which tracks relationships between C-level executives and board members in publicly traded companies–people who are more likely to rely on the old-boy network than LinkedIn or Twitter.

FREE FOR THE TAKING
Still, vendors will have to show hard ROI before these technologies will be adopted by enterprises, and that could be difficult with so many free alternatives. The long-term evolution of Web 2.0 in business is likely to trace a path similar to that of instant messaging, which has comparable social characteristics to wikis, blogs, and social networks, and initially followed a parallel adoption curve in business. IM was brought in by people who used it in their personal lives, and though many people resisted it at first, IM quickly became an enterprise staple: Three-quarters of all organizations in our survey use it; half say they find it very useful or critical to their business.

IM Technology In Use

So far, so much like any other technology. Home users are driving innovation, so it’s no surprise to see the enterprise lagging. But unlike the PC a generation ago, IM has managed to colonize the workplace without going native. Despite frequent warnings from security vendors that unrestrained use of consumer IM technology can violate privacy policies, give attackers a back door into the network, and even send executives to jail, most companies happily use the same free services as teenagers. Fewer than 30% of respondents in our online poll have enterprise IM servers such as Lotus SameTime. Actual use is likely a lot lower, as staff in many companies ignore the officially sanctioned software and install their own. The move to enterprise voice over IP is bringing other players like Cisco Systems into the IM game, attempting to converge IM’s presence features with telephony, but they could be too late. The public IM services are already integrated into cell phones, another technology frequently used in the workplace but not controlled by IT.

IT’S LOOSENING GRIP
Loss of IT control is a consistent theme as Web 2.0 penetrates business. The greatest upheaval is likely to come from enterprise mashups, which combine the social and technical aspects of Web 2.0 by letting users develop their own applications. Though very few businesses use mashups at present, those that are see great benefits, and larger players such as BEA, IBM, and Oracle are entering the game. Cutting out the middleman–that’s the IT department–can be a great way of aligning business and technology.

“Mashups have let end users do more of what used to be done by IT,” says Warren Breakstone, executive VP in charge of client services at investment tools provider Thomson Financial. Although not in the IT department, Breakstone started using a hosted mashup service from Serena Software and now runs a team of business analysts who develop Web-based applications for sales, marketing, and other personnel. “Now we’re moving into traditional IT services: The IT department is using apps that we built.”

Breakstone says this doesn’t bring his team into conflict with the IT department. “It frees IT up to do those mission-critical tasks behind the scenes,” he says.

IM itself is already giving way to newer technologies that are even further outside IT’s control. The leading candidate so far is Second Life. Though often seen (and increasingly scoffed at) as a marketing vehicle, its true potential is as a glorified chat room. Like IM, it’s free, but it gives users a more immersive experience and is designed for multiparty conversations.

“We found that Second Life allows more user engagement than traditional video or phone conferencing,” says Breakstone, who is testing Second Life as an environment for meetings. “One employee told me, ‘I’ve participated in lots of meetings and I tend to be very quiet, but I felt very comfortable opening up in Second Life.'”

Source:


Big money in Enterprise 2.0

October 29, 2007

Radicati Group, a leading analyst firm that tracks the messaging and collaboration industry, recently released some suprising data on the size and growth of the business social software market. According to Radicati, the market is expected to be $920 million this year and blossom to over $3.3 billion by 2011. These revenue numbers are staggering and indicate the significant investment that has started in Enterprise 2.0 technologies by business customers. Radicati’s numbers are indeed bullish compared to other analysts like Gartner which published back in July that the social software market would grow from $226 million in 2007 to more than $707 million by 2011.

Regardless of which numbers are accurate, what’s clearly driving this market is the shift of consumer-oriented Web 2.0 tools to the domain of ‘enterprise social computing’ and addressing real business problems. Gartner highlights this trend in a recent study entitled ‘Facebook and the Emerging Social Platform Wars’ and points out “the usefulness of social networking in the enterprise is becoming more visible to large (BEA Systems, Sun, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle) and small (Leverage Software, Spoke, Userplane, Corespeed, Unisfair, Tacit Software, Socialtext) vendors.” Clearly Enterprise 2.0 is more that just hype and the value of social software is shaping up to create a billion (or multi-billion) dollar market opportunity.

Source: Socialtext’s blog


Lessons In Enterprise Web 2.0 Adoption From The BBC

October 29, 2007

Today, the BBC has 23,000 bulletin board users, about 4,000 wiki users, and 400 to 500 people who are blogging. The company is getting enormous value out of this, but it didn’t happen overnight. The BBC has been experimenting with Social Computing for a long time; they built internal networks using forum software before blog tools came to be. Lessons learned at the BBC:

  • Enterprise Web 2.0 can be the catalyst for a more collaborative business environment. The BBC had done a lot of work to try to create a more collaborative work environment. The BBC World Service, for example, has 47 language services. People need to work together who come from wildly different backgrounds (cultures, languages, etc.). How to make this happen? As it turned out, the BBC’s internal forums, which only cost the company about 200 pounds, got the company to be more collaborative than the more formal initiatives did.
  • Experiment, start small, and make sure ownership is clear. Using Social Computing tools at work is very different from the way most of us are used to working. Managers, for example, may need time to get used to a flatter kind of environment, where people are off doing their own thing. One thing that helped at the BBC was that the forum environment was collectively owned; this helped people take responsibility for how it was used.
  • Trust breeds trust. The BBC found that when people are given responsibility, the right tools, and a little coaching, most of them will do the right thing. And as people gain experience with Social Computing tools, the value of their efforts increases. While Semple didn’t get into this in his story, I’ll add here that creating a solid policy about appropriate use of tools like blogs, wikis, virtual worlds (a policy that has teeth) — and educating the workforce about that policy — can go a long way toward helping employees and management feel comfortable with what is going on.
  • Go where you’re not quite comfortable going. This is the source of innovation. At the BBC, employees were allowed to post on internal forums about anything they wanted to. Someone started a conversation about the pros and cons of being single. This evolved into something awfully close to a dating service. Managers, as you might imagine, were cringing. But before long one of the producers came to Euan Semple saying he was about to do a program on being single, and the employees who had participated in the forum about dating had done half the work for him. Great example of something that didn’t seem business like ending up delivering true business value.

Source: Forrester’s blog


Even With Web 2.0, Businesses Are Stuck at Enterprise 1.5

October 25, 2007

By David Weinberger

As you’ve probably heard, the Web progressed to version 2.0 a couple of years ago. It’s about time, too, especially since for many of us, our maintenance contracts with the Web were about to run out, and we didn’t want to have to pay for the upgrade to the new version. Fortunately, the new release of the Web went smoothly. We downloaded the new software, followed the upgrade instructions (did you remember to download the new drivers first?), and were up and running with our brand new Web version within days.

The only problem is that, while the Web may have progressed to 2.0, businesses are stuck at 1.5, at best. As they try to grab hold of the bubble, businesses are finding they’re weighted down. Not by extraneous baggage they could jettison, but by core principles of organization and operation.

Take an easy part of Web 2.0: User participation via blogging. For now, we’ll ignore that the Web has been about user participation from its very beginning. There’s no question that blogging has made it easier than ever for people to join the global conversation. There’s obviously no technical reason why a corporation couldn’t start up its own blogs, and many have. But so often corporate blogs are the worst sort of marketing: marketing pretending that it isn’t marketing.

If you wanted to build an environment in which blogging would be tempted to betray its values, you’d build a modern corporation. Marketing has trained companies to speak in safe platitudes. Legal has warned companies not to let anyone speak without permission. Executives have let themselves believe that they got where they are because they’re oh so fascinating. It’s a miracle there are any good corporate blogs at all.

Or take mashups, the poster children of Web 2.0. Sure, companies may use other people’s data to enhance their own, and if a page isn’t busily rebuilding itself through the magic of AJAX, then it definitely hasn’t drunk the Web 2.0 juice. The real question is whether a company will let others use its data. We’ve told companies for a generation now that information is their second most important asset. But, in the 2.0 world, information is free to roam, mate, and produce unexpected offspring. Most companies aren’t ready to go that far, so they point to how they’ve mashed up their store locations with Google Maps, and declare Web 2.0 victory.

It’s not easy. I know a company that is about to do some deals to aggregate a particular class of information. I’m not allowed to give away details, so let’s pretend it’s information about auto repairs. (It’s not.) There are several coalitions proposing standards in this area, all aiming at openness. This company doesn’t want to play. They have an opportunity to become the dominate source for auto repair info, and they don’t want to give up their control over the standard they may be in a position to establish as the de facto winner.

I think it’s short-sighted of them for good business reasons. Because an open standard would encourage innovation and competition, the market will eventually (probably) push for it and thus push away from this company’s proprietary standard. I’ve lost this argument, though, because the company looks at the shorter-term future and sees lots of advantages. Immediate gain in the 1.5 world weighs quite heavily against long-term benefit in the 2.0 world.

The fact that companies are stalled at Enterprise 1.5 isn’t due to a simple failing, as if they’re just not as smart as the Web 2.0 hackers. Web 2.0 sharpens the challenge Web 1.0 posed to our traditional ways of doing business. The change is deep and real. We should expect business to lag, and some businesses to be left behind entirely.

Source: Information week


A checkpoint on Web 2.0 in the enterprise (Part 2)

October 23, 2007

The last few weeks have seen a series of interesting new reports, studies, and papers on the past, present, and future of Web 2.0 concepts and applications as applied to businesses. Most notable for many industry watchers have been fairly rigorous new works by McKinsey & Company as well as Forrester, whom have each released the results of broad surveys of executives in various industries. The focus of both surveys was to capture a picture of the interests, activities, motivators for Web 2.0 adoption of several thousand C-level executives in medium to large companies.

While both the McKinsey study and Forrester report have summaries online — and you can read a detailed breakdown of the fascinating adoption numbers in Nick Carr’s excellent roll-up of many of the key numbers in the reports — what stands out clearly from the state of Web 2.0 in business last year is the almost surprisingly high levels interest in some of the more advanced, and powerful, concepts in the Web 2.0 practice set.

Gartner, for its part, had its own take on things last year with their widely covered hype cycle report on Web 2.0, indicating the things like collective intelligence (ostensibly the core principle of Web 2.0) would be a long term, transformational business strategy that they felt at the time would take at least 5 to 10 years for broad industry uptake. However, the report from McKinsey intriguing suggests something much different may be taking place.

The numbers McKinsey provides from actual business leaders seems to indicate that broad, active interest in collective intelligence is rapidly forming in the offices of many company’s CIOs, CTOs, and other executives. McKinsey cites that fully 48% of the nearly 3,000 leading executives surveyed are actively investing in collective intelligence approaches. What makes this interesting is that this number is a good bit more than executives are currently reporting that they are investing in other well known Web 2.0 approaches including social networking, RSS, podcasting, and even wikis and blogs, which come in about 1/3 lower in overall interest. In fact, out of all the Web 2.0 trends surveyed, only Web services has a bigger footprint than collective intelligence in terms of current investment. This strongly suggests some kind of sea change in business thinking since last year.

This is a fascinating outcome since at a grassroots level in the enterprise, and certainly out on the Web, the rise of wikis and in particular blogs, are a much more common phenomenon than apps that focus on collective intelligence, the latter which would manifest itself as any software which aggregates the combined user created input of employees and/or customers, partners, and suppliers en masse to create better knowledge and decisions. And although both wikis and blogs both accumulate collective intelligence (albeit relatively unstructured) via user participation — open group editing of content in the case of wikis, and conversations via comments and trackbacks in blogs — it’s probably the more formal, more structured, and centrally driven collective intelligence model that respondents were likely referring to since blogs and wikis were already represented in the survey.

Collective intelligence leads blogs and wikis in terms of business interest?

Taking a look at these results in general reminds us that many of the outcomes that Web 2.0 technologies enable — the free flow of information, emergent structure, higher levels of social activity, and decentralized do-it-yourself peer production — are sometimes subversive and even somewhat disruptive to traditional corporate structures and management processes. Because I suspect that a survey of these same items taken of the general user community — and not management — would find a different set of answers, and one that would likely emphasize the Web 2.0 platforms that are under more end user control. By this I mean the aforementioned blogs and wikis, but probably social networking applications as well.

Why is this an important distinction? This question takes us to the actual changes that the consumer Web appears to be imposing increasingly on our organization from the bottom up. The diagram I have above shows which aspects of Web 2.0 tools and technologies are primarily created and controlled with relative democratization by users (which is why they’re called peers in this case), and which ones are primarily enabled, in fact are made possible at all, by centralized IT. Web services, APIs, and mashups are classic examples of centrally created things which need governance and management, not to mention good design and architecture, something that is still just not very DIY, at least yet. On the other hand, blogs and wikis are simple, elemental Web 2.0 platforms for self-expression and participation and are as simple to create by anyone — along with the latest best practices — as spending 30 seconds in the setup pages of your favorite enterprise blog or wiki hosting site.

However, as we’ve seen with things like IBM’s promising QEDWiki platform that allows wikis to be the front end of an SOA, the world of end-user powered Web 2.0 platforms like blogs/wikis and the world of enterprise IT infrastructure and SOA — the latter which organizations world-wide have been pouring billions and billions into the last few years — are not separate worlds at all. In fact, it’s increasingly apparent that the Web 2.0 technologies which emphasize the most user control are also the very tools that can unleash the investments the business world has been making in information technology for almost a decade, particularly around interoperability and reuse based on the open Web services model. The best way to exploit and leverage our businesses is increasingly likely to use the combined power, reach, and ease-of-use of platforms such as blogs and wikis to tap into and make use of our vast, and all-too-often underutilized islands of data and IT infrastructure.

And as I discussed in my previous post, effective Web 2.0 in the enterprise, whether that’s basic Enterprise 2.0 or a much broader and expansive view of Web 2.0 design patterns and business models which I’ve called Product Development 2.0 for lack of a better term, actually requires the active support of both the users on the ground as well as the top levels of an organization to really take off. Business are structured much differently that the consumer Web and major impediments to use of Web 2.0 production and consumption scenarios exist. This include lack of good enterprise search, mountains of closed legacy systems, the challenge of securing highly open, deeply integrated applications, and conflicting data models (XML, relational data, rich media, and more.) These are all challenges to the ultimate success of Web 2.0 in the enterprise, even to the point that some organizations are increasingly at risk of IT users doing so much themselves that the IT department can begin to lose control. That is, unless they jump into the trenches with their users and help guide the application of Web 2.0 tools without significantly hindering forward progress.

Source: ZDNet’s blog


A checkpoint on Web 2.0 in the enterprise (part 1)

October 23, 2007

By Dion Hinchcliffe,
ZD Net

For well over a year now we’ve seen reports and announcements from a major industry analyst firms and others tracking the movement of Web 2.0 ideas into the enterprise. Gartner, Forrester, McKinsey, and many others have all weighed in on the trends or made recommendations, sometimes cautious and sometimes optimistic, that organizations should start heading down the Web 2.0 path. And public interest in Web 2.0 in the enterprise is widespread too, not in the least exemplified by the fact that Web 2.0 trends of all kinds — business and consumer both — are tracked closely here in many blogs on ZDNet.

We’ve also seen that the term itself has moved from passing familiarity in the leading edge of the technical community to nearly universal recognition in both IT and mainstream business circles. That Web 2.0 is a complex topic there is little doubt since it’s often described as a grab bag category of the latest ideas and movements that include — but are by no means limited to– wikis, blogs, RSS, podcasting, content tagging, mashups, and social networking.

The big question? What do you really need to know today about Web 2.0 in the enterprise?

Reducing all of these ideas into an underlying set of principles is what people like Tim O’Reilly have been doing for several years now. It’s generally understood by most people that the Internet has changed considerably in the last half-decade and that those changes have reached a tipping point that’s enabling brand new business models, unleashing a wave of innovative products, influencing public behavior on a large scale, and in particular, resulting in entirely new types of online businesses. But as I discussed in last year’s discussion on Web 2.0 reductionism, trying to get at the core motive force behind things as disparate as rich user experiences and collective intelligence is no small task.

Fortunately, we are indeed as an industry starting to get a handle on how all the pieces of Web 2.0 fit together. For instance, it’s now clear that having hundreds of millions of people globally connected together pervasively via one single high speed two-way network (aka the Internet) will result in many of the things we’re now seeing in the marketplace. It seems a fundamental new widespread focus on leveraging that two-way aspect of the network deeply in our online products, as well as increasingly playing to the fundamental strengths of the network that is the Web, is teaching us invaluable lesson after invaluable new lesson for our businesses. The result is that the living laboratory of the Web is now the source of the greater part of our innovation in business these days. Today’s World Wide Web is a larger ecosystem and with far more brainpower and activity that any single organization could ever hope to match.

Web 2.0 Transforms The Business Landscape

The story of Web 2.0 began with things like open source software, which is nothing more than entire products created ad hoc by volunteer armies of contributors that now outnumber — by virtue of the sheer capacity the network — the world of commercial software efforts. It’s not lost on careful watchers that open source software tends to be more feature rich, secure, and bug free that commercial software, despite being created by thousands of loosely coupled, self-selected contributors. Since then, this idea of commons-based peer production of products on the global Internet has spread through just about every other type of product that can be delivered over the Web from marketing, advertising, collaboration, news, customer service to banking, investment, fund raising, disaster management, and dozens of other types of business and civic activities. This reflects the fact that the majority of productive power is on the edge of our networks and always has been. We’ve tinkered for a couple of decades to build good networked software that took advantage of this fact but we didn’t yet have enough knowledge of the best techniques for creating them. That things like peer production are now moving to the center of the design of online products finally shows a maturing realization that our older, more traditional views of networked applications were just not effective as they could be.

Combine the rise of peer production with the Web growing up into a true software platform as part of the rise of rich user experiences and SaaS. Then witness the movement of the Web out into the world in the last few years and exploding into thousands of types of new Internet devices, mobile and otherwise, that deliver — and just as importantly if not more — capture value in every corner of the globe and in every conceivable setting.

An overarching and compelling new business vision

And while there more trends beyond these that are driving Web 2.0, the upshot is that the productive capacity of the world is increasingly wired into the Web and can be leveraged by building online products that encourage the close cooperation and involvement of those at the edge of the network. You can get now people on the Web en masse to build innovative software applications or help you accumulate vast and almost infinitely rich databases of information and even foster enormous online populations for which you are the preferred intermediary and of which you can tap the combined intelligence.

It’s this more comprehensive and integrated vision of Web 2.0 and its ingredients consisting of 1) people, 2) a pervasive two-way network, 3) continuous, around-the-clock activity by a billion Web participants, and 4) products that actively leverage the first three items that gives us a better perspective on understanding the strategic advantage of Web 2.0 to our businesses. Individually sorting through the collection of Web 2.0 techniques and technologies tends to ignores the forest for the trees and prevents us from getting any more than a tactical approach to transforming our businesses to a more Web 2.0 model.

For it’s this shift in power and control from the center of the network to the edge that has been the hallmark of the Web 2.0 era. For businesses to succeed in the 21st century will require a change in many of the assumptions and long-held ground rules for what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating successful products and obtaining better business outcomes.

It’s presently not easy task to create a roadmap for businesses to create an orderly transition to Web 2.0 models. For one, the pace of change and innovation on the Web today is daunting, making roadmaps age and become obsolete almost as soon as they are complete. The second is that many aspects of Web 2.0 approaches are fundamentally disruptive and will require businesses to do serious soul searching and often take on real risk to the brands, reputations, and many a product line’s long-term future. However, the dilemma is that standing still is just not an option as we increasingly see industries remade in surprisingly short times. One of the best examples is YouTube’s sudden and near complete dominance in online video, eclipsing in less than two years an industry (broadcast and cable TV) that had built up over 40 years, by using a small team of talented entrepreneurs who had a solid understanding of the rules of Web 2.0. This type of disruption is likely for most industries in the next few years — and is even actively taking place today in some — and is the broader part of the more serious and transformative aspects of Web 2.0 that is increasingly getting attention from business leaders.

Web 2.0 in the enterprise: Strategic or tactical?

For many managers and workers however, these great and historical shifts are beyond their scope or mandate, and they just want incremental improvements to their area of the business and avoid obsolescence. In fact, this is currently one of the more sustained and germane aspects of Web 2.0 for most businesses in the short term and is an important part of Web 2.0 in the enterprise story. Most organizations will be focusing on tactical experiments and pilot efforts as they begin to dabble with Web 2.0 and see how they can apply it to their local corporate culture and unique business situations. But whether one is looking at completely transforming a business at a strategic level, or just applying a few Web 2.0 techniques to a corner of a business that can benefit from it, the message is clearer and clearer business leaders: Significant change is afoot and now is the time to start looking hard at how to embrace it.

So for many business and IT leaders it can be a significant challenge to keep a current and up-to-date understanding of Web 2.0 and how it applies to the enterprise. What sort of changes to the fabric of the organization is required? What kind of technologies and platforms should be created? How should online products be tweaked or transformed to deliver more value to customers and get even more back?

To help answer this, I created an up-to-date Web 2.0 in the enterprise visualization (above) that is my take on the major elements of Web 2.0 and how it applies to the two great aspects of Web 2.0; the social and the technical. I’ve further divided the visualization into the internal and external aspects of Web 2.0 (with full realization there is heavy overlap and blurring between the two) and to convey that there is indeed for most enterprises important differences between how they will apply Web 2.0 to their customers, partners, and suppliers and how they apply Web 2.0 internally. This distinction will likely erode in coming years but for now, there is certainly still a very clear division between the insides and outsides of most organizations.

Note: I’ve liberally mixed technologies, platforms, and concepts together in the above visualization. The only criteria was that an item had to be of significant enterprise importance to make the cut. There are many aspects to Web 2.0 as you can see from this popular visualization, but these are the probably the most important ones when thinking about Web 2.0 in the enterprise.

The aspects of Web 2.0 in the enterprise as of mid-2007

We’ll now do a brief clock-wise tour of the key aspects of Web 2.0 the enterprise as presented above. The four quadrants of the visualization divide the world of enterprise Web 2.0 into social and technical halves vertically and external and internal halves horizontally. There are certainly other ways to divide the concerns of Web 2.0 but this method is good for several reasons. One is that the social dimension of Web 2.0 is often underappreciated in IT circles (my experience) and calling it out at top conveys both the change in focus for IT and how important it is from a business perspective. The second is that aforementioned bright line that presently exists between internal IT solutions and external offerings. These have very different contexts and while the same Web 2.0 platforms can often serve both, they are provisioned and used very differently right down to what filters and controls are applied.

Internal Social Aspects

Wikis: Popular collaboration and sharing platforms like wiks are sometimes offered to customers these days but are primarily an intranet presence in most organizations today. Wikis, or shared Web pages anyone can write on (leveraging the two way network) are part of the burgeoning Enterprise 2.0 story and are also one of the most easily adopted Web 2.0 platforms in the enterprise. I often hear stories from organizations that witness wikis sprouting like crabgrass in their organization. Wikis are a true Web 2.0 platform as opposed to a mere application and can form basis of almost any kind of user-generated Web building inside an organization. Itensil and IBM’s QEDWiki are great examples of the full potential that is achievable today.

Read a discussion of enterprise context and wikis.

Collaboration 2.0: An unofficial term that refers to tools similar to wikis but a bit more structured, often around workflow. Examples of products in this space include things like SharePoint and ClearSpace, which provide alternate models to achieve ad hoc outcomes by accumulating user generated content and structure. Complexity is the killer of contributions in almost all types of software and the most effective Collaboration 2.0 products are extremely simple yet use models that often don’t resemble the wiki, which is why it gets its own listing.

Not sure why Web 2.0-style collaboration is such a big deal, read about the potential productivity gains by enabling tacit interactions.

Emergent structure: This is not a type of Web 2.0 software but an important and highly desirable outcome created by the operation of well-designed two-way networked applications over time. It’s no accident that Web 2.0 sites typically have very little structure and what they do have is highly freeform. Tagging is a pre-eminent example of emergent structure. I often find that tagging is overemphasized while the overall value of emergent structure in user-powered software is not nearly appreciated enough and I subsume tagging into this enterprise Web 2.0 bugged.

The underlying concept of emergent structure is that we guess far too much up front about the features of the software we need or the way the data should be organized. We speculate how applications will be used and over-predefine the requirements and design of our networked systems, forcing them down paths before we have enough experience to find the right path. Web 2.0 applications strongly favor emergent structure and coevolution with communities of users because it creates better long-term results that evolve organically and stay up-to-date. Agile project management methods have longed understood this but with Web 2.0 it’s even more extreme. Encouraging emergent results is vital from a business perspective because it creates solutions that fit best and continue to fit long term. Also, emergent structure is more efficient that enormous requirements gathering exercises; just pull the information in real-time from the other end of the network.

Explore how agile methods have begun evolving into Web 2.0 methods in the age of the perpetual beta.

Expertise Location: I am conflicted about making this a top level aspect of Web 2.0 in the enterprise but I’m also amazed that this continues to be one of the more serious problems plaguing many large enterprises: Who in an organization actually knows what you need to know right now? Web 2.0 platforms, which usually tie contributions back to the original contributor allow the location of workers who are most likely to have the information you are looking for. This means an organization must have public, social platforms like blogs and wikis in an organization and they will also have to be widely used. But once they are, the efficiency gains, reduction of duplicate efforts, and emergent collaboration that results have enormous business potential.

Collective Intelligence including Prediction Markets: Often referred to as the core principle of Web 2.0; collective intelligence refers to turning the combined information in all the minds at the other end of the network into the richest and most updated online product possible. Unfortunately, collective intelligence is still poorly understood and under-leveraged both on the Web and in the enterprise. Questions about its ability to create accurate products, to reach desired outcomes predictably, and even a good sense of where it can be applied most effectively are still open questions for many. Yet there is no denying that many of the most compelling and successful products on the Web are creating using collective intelligence approaches. Wikipedia is one of the best known examples, but so are search engines, which take the combined output of the Web that we’ve created as inputs and give a mirror to look at it.

As a result of this, approaches like prediction markets — which have been with us for a while but are ideal in a Web 2.0 environment — are coming into play which have ways of filtering out the bad information and mining the best results from a host of contributions, such as Slate recently did for the 2008 presidential race. One of the best ways to tap into the Wisdom of Crowds, collective intelligence also creates the strongest, richest, and most resilient products and business solutions possible. Collective intelligence can be very loosely or very highly structured depending on the desired outcome, from the unstructured comments in blogs and peer production news sites like Netscape.com to highly focused predictive markets like Pickspal or DigStock. I put collective intelligence on the internal side of the enterprise here but it really belong across the spectrum in the enterprise. The reason it’s the internal side for now is that I believe it will tend to take off inside of organizations at first as they learn to apply it.

Ad Hoc Social IT: It’s amazing that even chat systems are relatively rare in the enterprise, but what’s happening increasingly are easy-to-deploy tools of the Office 2.0 variety which understand the value of two-way and multi-way social communication including making it permanent, searchable, and joinable. Arguably a branch of Enterprise 2.0, this concept applies to the multitude of communication mechanisms we now have in the enterprise from SMS, MMS, email, chat, IM, forums, groupware which is suddenly growing much more powerful because of Web 2.0 augmentation. Example: The SMS texting protocol for mobile phones is generally point to point, but make it social and connected to your social network, such as with the well-known and popular Twitter application, and now you have an application that is taking an underpowered Web 1.0 protocol and leveraging the full power of the network and its audience to achieve the maximum possible network effect.

Employee Blogs: One of the most frequent polls I do in my conference talks is to ask the audience if they have an easy way to create a blog on their intranet. The answer is “yes” usually in the 10-15% range. Yet blogs are an ideal Web 2.0 platform that workers can use to create “channels” for their content and work on the intranet. Blogs, and as importantly, the content in the comments, can provide the information or the answers to questions that workers desperately need and can find via search, but can’t find an enterprise’s closed email environments and file systems where so much knowledge resides. The most senior workers in organizations are often plagued with providing the same information over and over again, year after year, and usually have to go through complex and time-consuming processes to get information posted on the intranet that would offload them. Blogs work so well because they are incredibly simple, support syndication, and harness collective intelligence in their comments. Though really a part of Collaboration 2.0, I broke this out separately because many enterprises are very behind in deploying blogs to their workers even though they are usually sorely needed. To get a sense of how to add enterprise context to make blogs work in your organization, here are some strategies I’ve assembled.

Web 2.0 platforms can liberate an intranet and make it a vibrant, employee-powered collective intelligence platform.

Internal Technical Aspects

Data aggregation: I like to say that most enterprises are awash in data and we are mostly failing to bring this information forward into Web-based platforms for use, remixing, and productizing. This also true of many older Web-based systems and there is not nearly enough service-enablement and exposing of data via highly consumable forms such as RSS, APIs, or even badges and widgets. A lot of data is also just not being collected or is kept behind walled gardens like data warehouses, relational database, and other storage forms which are difficult to use without extensive programming or expensive products. The Web, however, has largely solved this problem in the large with the development of search engines, syndication, aggregation, hyper-aggregation, and other techniques and I would not that this is a much larger problem for the most part. By following Web 2.0 best practices, enterprises can liberate their data, make it more relevant on a daily basis to the organization, and make sure it’s being readily incorporated into new online products and services.

Enteprise mashups: The prevalence of many high value services and easy ways to combine them together to form new business solutions on-the fly has led to the concept of situational software, where users can create nearly instant business value by leveraging the full IT resources of the enterprise as well as the open Web. Enterprise mashup platforms can enable this, though most mashups are created by simple copy-and-paste solution for now until the tools mature. I’ve written about this extensively before and you can read about mashups as a major new software development model here.

Rich User Experiences: To become a true software platform the Web page model had to grow up and the result has been rich user experiences. A rich user experience is nothing more than a Web pages that has the interactivity and immersiveness of desktop software installed on PCs. Ajax, Flash, and Silverlight are three key ways that rich user experiences are created on the Web and intranet today. The advantages of rich user experiences is they are always up to date, require no installation of the application on the desktop, can be used from anywhere with a Web connection, and more. Disadvantages include immature tools, security concerns, and a breaking of the Web model including content crawling, search, and analytics to name just a few. However, it’s clear that rich user experiences are here to stay, are very popular with users, and can boost worker productivity and potentially cut costs of acquiring, managing, and maintaining software significantly.

Choose an rich user experience platform poses challenges today.

Perpetual Beta: In the Web 2.0 era, online products and services are really never finished and must continuously improve to compete. However our traditional project management processes tend to force us into a linear process with a well-defined start point and end point. The most successful Web 2.0 products are continually co-evolved and developed with their users in an ongoing cycle, leading to a natural end-point sometimes called Web Development 2.0 that is far more extreme and highly competitive than we are generally used to in the enterprise. Going hand it hand with emergent structure above, the perpetual requires a significant rethinking of internal processes for product development and maintenance. Those that don’t adopt the processes that support the perpetual beta will likely face the unpleasant prospect of competing with businesses that use these approaches to innovate much faster, have products that their customers identify with more, and out-evolve their counterparts in the marketplace.

Syndication: One of the signature realizations of the Web 2.0 era is that content is of very limited utility when it’s located in just a single place. Letting it flow across the network to where it’s needed is a much better way to get results and make sure it gets leveraged. Despite years of experience, we’re still just learning about how to fully take advantage of syndication for better business results. The bottom line: Most enterprises are currently not projecting actionable data to where the business needs it because there’s just not enough syndication of vital business information. Examples of useful feeds: What unfilled positions are outstanding? What project schedules are late? Who are the new hires and what do they do? These are all simple but useful datapoints that anyone could pull within the enterprise if such feeds existed, but they usually don’t. Syndication is also of vital importance externally and that will be covered in open APIs and feeds in the next section.

SOA + WOA: The vision of a completely integrated enterprise was the promise of service-oriented architecture or SOA. Despite tens of billions of investment spent by enterprises around the world each year in integration efforts, SOA is still fighting an uphill battle despite being largely based on Web technologies. However, integration tends to work quite well on the open Web, but interestingly by largely not using SOA models, which tend not to be Web-oriented. I’ve summarized this issue many times in this blog and elsewhere but the bottom line is that traditional SOA isn’t going away and Web-oriented techniques are coming to the fore. This will help us achieve everything from using rich user experiences as the face of SOA to enabling ad hoc integration like enterprise mashups. While it may sound like a low-level plumbing issue, WOA can achieve real and actionable business results by adding a Web model of integration and architecture that can put many of the benefits of the open Web directly into worker hands.

It turns out that Web 2.0 and SOA have a core set of identical goals but often go about them in a different way.

SaaS: The world of installed desktop software circa the 1990s and early 2000s is rapidly giving away to software that runs entirely on the network and uses Web technologies. This is known as Software as a Service (SaaS) and is one of the fastest growing models for software, if not the fastest. You can have SaaS without rich user experiences but increasingly the best SaaS tends to be a blend of traditional Web page-based apps and rich user experiences both. SaaS can be on premises or off premises and this allows economies of scale to be offloaded to SaaS providers, can upfront software acquisition costs, and can greatly improve deployment, manageability, and licensing headaches. The entire Office 2.0 software list is a great example of Web 2.0 era SaaS and will increasingly replace existing apps right down to Microsoft Office and other popular business productivity applications.

Source:ZD Net