I’m a firm believer that Enterprise 2.0 is all about communications. It may be a bland statement, but it also emphasizes the fact that Enterprise 2.0 is first and foremost defined by an organizational culture in which communication in the form of dialogue flows freely and without constraints. That’s the very basic concept. It defines itself through organizations whose management understands that information is not power if kept to the chosen few, but if dispersed and enriched as a premise for collaboration. Another core premise for a true Enterprise 2.0 culture is that it’s actively endorsed, supported, sponsored (call it whatever you want) by top management (preferably the CEO).
Meanwhile, we are now blessed with software and services, which can actually make the Enterprise 2.0 dream come true. Now, I have worked with knowledge management software since 1999 (when one of my customers accidentally fell in love with a very rudimentary learning system from SAP and wanted to use it for sharing of general company knowledge) and things have changed very dramatically since then. Back then we all had rather wet dreams about collaboration, but the whole culture of sharing, voting, rating, commenting, blogging and microblogging was still not around. A lot of the services which are now possible, wouldn’t have been possible, simply because people (employees) weren’t culturally and mentally ready for the leap. Web 2.0 helped change all that. A friend of mine recently said that we used to be inspired by software used at work and would introduce it onto our private computers, but now the trend has reversed and we are increasingly far more innovative privately and push to get the same software and services at work.
Jive’s product video below illustrates this point quite well. It addresses itself to the average guy who wants the social aspect back into his work life…
We really have a lot to thank the likes of Facebook, MySpace, Friends Reunited and LinkedIn for. Without them paving the way we wouldn’t be anywhere near the push and adoption rates we’re looking at right now. I recently took part in a conference about corporate social media and a speaker representing a company having introduced some elements of Enterprise 2.0 said the major push had come from the employees. Amazing – imagine if that had happened back in the old ERP days. That was when the mere mention of an ERP implementation was enough to make people quit and flee the company :-)
Anyway, I’m drifting and my intention in this blog post was to talk about the “app side of Enterprise 2.0”. Now that we have established that Enterprise 2.0 isn’t *just* a software suite you can roll out and, Bob’s your uncle, you have a communicative and collaborative company, we can move on to talk about those types of applications which can help fulfill the dream.
I generally categorize Enterprise 2.0 apps into these categories (but that’s just my slant on it – I’d love to hear your views):
- Blogs (written and video)
- Chat/instant messaging
- Collaborative tagging (folksonomy) of all internal and external content
- Rating and commenting capabilities (for blogs, links, documents, images, people)
- Profile pages (personal and skills content)
- Merit awards/levels
- Collaborative development of content
- Network sharing (internal follow and view external contacts)
There are some really good narrow services like Yammer for microblogging, which are very widely adopted. And then there are whole suites incorporating more areas. At this stage I generally find that the narrow services are more cutting edge, but the downside is that you have to start looking at several point solutions.