How Will Enterprise 2.0 Transform the Workplace

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by: Idris Mootee

A question that I often come across during my conversations with senior executives is "what is the impact of web 2.0 strategies and tools from an enterprise perspective?’  Many have difficulties providing a quick answer while they were quick to provide examples of how Web 2.0 innovation has been creating new applications for consumer uses. I believe these innovations are finding their way into the enterprises. Enterprise 2.0 doesn’t really exist today other than a few software companies (content management) renaming themselves. The question is why? There are many answers to that.


I think the term was first introduced by Prof Andrew McAfee of Harvard Business School and being defined 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. IT folks have serious concerns about Enterprise 2.0 disruptions and the implications (distraction) of bringing this sort of content into their enterprises. Some think that it is about blogs and wikis and many only see chaos.

Many platforms that failed to make the cut as Enterprise 2.0 because they simply didn’t have the qualities that were believed to be important for business outcomes? Enterprise 2.0 takes most of the potent ideas of Web 2.0 peer participation and production and moves them into the workplace. I think we can expect Enterprise 2.0 trend will accelerate slowly over the next 2-3 years. Many big solution vendors are struggling to define what it actually means, not to mention figuring the business value and enterprise wide implications.

So why Enterprise 2.0 initiates gets stuck? Because they fail to answer many of the following questions: How does it help the organization to improve business performance? What does it mean for the knowledge workers? How does it contribute it support human capital development? What are the incentives to share? What are the core issues and does the business and IT teams see the same issues? Who owns the issues and is that a plan to resolve them? Are there agreements on the key risks and is there a plan to mitigate them?

There are also cultural, compliances and legal issues. And if free comment is allowed in a corporate blog or wiki, the company has to be alert to the dangers of libel or infringement of employee rights laws. There must be reasonable measure to ensure the content adheres to certain standard to balance the rights of individual opinion and respect for others. And from a technology standpoint, there’s realistic concern about how 2.0 technologies interact with legacy systems and what it will cost to ensure that the IT project is appropriately staffed and resources.

But the biggest idea is the "transformation of the workplace". This new generation of social networking and collaborative software is transforming the workplace and starting to take on the very human characteristics of interaction and collaboration that will fuel a burst of productivity to rival the advent of e-mail. It will take 2-5 years and that’s what a typical corporation usage adoption curve will look like.

Talking about workplace transformation, here’s a photo of what’s the mobile workplace is like. Scott has been performing these dangerous act lately, I was actively ensuring cab drivers saw him crossing the street.

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