by: Christian Smagg

While Enterprise 2.0 is often described as “web 2.0 meets the enterprise”, what Enterprise 2.0 encompasses is much bigger. Enterprise 2.0 represents a radical change in the way businesses operate and is as much about the people, the culture and the processes as it is about the technology, tools and platforms.

More than simply Web 2.0 applied to business, Enterprise 2.0 could indeed be considered as the synthesis of new technologies, models, processes and mindsets that are revolutionizing the way business is conducted. Technologies and models have also emerged that have had a dramatic impact on the future of the industry: open source, offshoring, services-oriented architecture (SOA) and software as a service (SaaS). Rather than one single trend taking the lead, Enterprise 2.0 will be the combination of all of these new technologies and models.

In this context, measuring the impact and evaluating the ROI of Enterprise 2.0 is fast becoming a hot topic. Although these may not always be the technologies cited as the most widely used by companies across industries, collaborative and communications technologies (including wikis, blogs, and RSS) are usually considered as having immediate value for the organizations. We also find that those firms with the largest number of tools deployed see the best value, although no "killer combination" of tools has emerged yet.

While many assert that Enterprise 2.0 technologies are subject to the same scrutiny as other investments, a general sense emerges that it is, in many cases, too soon to tell. However, these technologies can be assessed by their impact on business performance, which could be defined in many ways, including better customer engagement, more efficient collaboration within the company, and an improved ability to manage its online reputation. Executives also tend to invest in new technologies and processes because they hold out the promise of either increasing competitive advantage or reducing costs.

Much of the value of an Enterprise 2.0 deployment is incremental and "soft" in nature, and as a result, clear business value measurement remains elusive. In addition, most firms continue to use traditional value measurement techniques like ROI and total cost of ownership (TCO) when evaluating Enterprise 2.0 deployments. For marketers, this means a dual challenge of accommodating corporate value measurement expectations while helping them onto the right track for incremental and softer value realisation.

The reality is that the Enterprise 2.0 story still has a long way to go. The results will not be clearly quantified until the tools get into most workers’ hands and organisations understand the key elements of success with Enterprise 2.0.

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