The Enterprise 2.0 pendulum


Enterprise 2.0 pendulum

Ok – so I can’t see this becoming as catchy a meme as the Enterprise Octopus, but wanted to introduce this concept.  Fads and trends come and go, both in and out-side of IT, and opinions tend to swing between the extremes before (sometimes) settling at a happy medium.  Here are some examples:

  • Left and right political ideologies in the UK have converged on the centre ground, having been wildly opposed in the 70s and 80s.
  • Mainframe computing in the 70s & 80s -> Client/Server in the 90s and the internet is taking us back to thin clients and the mainframe of the ‘cloud’ or ‘grid’
  •  Politicians have been trying to stabilise the boom/bust economic cycle, with debatable success
  • “Greed is good” business and management culture  has swung toward Corporate Social Responsibility and “inclusive” management styles

There are many more – but this last point leads us on to Enterprise 2.0.  Enterprise 2.0 as a cultural change is all about flattening the enterprise, pandering to Generation Y’s all-conquering mastery of new technology that Generation X and Baby Boomers can’t understand (and therefore feel vicariously young and trendy if they allow their graduates to ’embrace’ Facebook at work) – and according to some the firm as we know it today will no longer exist.  Groups of independents will seamlessly emerge to combine specialist skills to deal with business problems and then evaporate back into the ether.  This is similar to the extreme view posed by some SOA champions, that future software applications will not be developed but rather ‘assembled’ by loosely-coupled independent services.

So  the Enterprise 2.0 battlefield is drawn between two camps, those who think that the firm is no more and that unless you’re blogging you can’t possibly be a productive knowledge worker on one side (the Enterprise Octopus of Jive Software), and those who believe that it’s all a waste of time and we should get on with real work (Jive’s Norman Naysayer).

This is a false battle.  Usually, the best position lies somewhere between the two extremes.  Yes, organisations are getting a flatter management structure, but that doesn’t mean that the 21 year old graduate is in charge.  Blogging and wikis are useful, but they have their place and are not the solution to every collaboration problem (try taking away “the wall” from a large development organisation).  The way Generation Y collaborates may have something to teach business, but business also has a lot to teach Generation Y about the world of work, about the importance of commitments and deadlines, and the fact that at the end of the day, it’s about shareholder value – if blogging, Facebook and Corporate Social Responsibility help deliver that more efficiently than traditional methods then great, but don’t take your eye off the ball.

In the same way that organisations who ignore Enterprise 2.0 as a fad will lose out, those that go too far too quickly without thinking about why they are doing so and what the business benefits are, will suffer too.

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6 Responses to The Enterprise 2.0 pendulum

  1. Yes it is a “false battle” – the arguments remind me a lot of 2006!

    Seriously, though, what’s different now is that, while the evangelists are still with us hyping 2.0 stuff at every opportunity, a lot of folks are in the “let’s see what we can do with this stuff” mentality. Which is progress!

  2. Good article. I work in PR, which is changing rapidly. If I didn’t look to use new tools to interact with new audiences, I’d be a fool. But if I get so entranced by the conversation I forget to support the success of my clients, then that’s foolish as well.

  3. Chris Yeh says:

    I think it was Tom Evslin who said, “Nothing worth doing ever happened without irrational exuberance.”

    We need flamboyant evangelists like Sam to get the ball rolling, but we also need to understand that once we can start showing real ROI, it’s easier to drive adoption with simple logic rather than extravagant claims.

  4. Chris Yeh says:

    I think it was my friend Tom Evslin who said, “Nothing worth doing was accomplished without irrational exuberance.”

    We need larger-than-life evangelists like Sam Lawrence to get the ball rolling and build awareness. But I also think that when you can show real ROI, it’s better to sell on the merits rather than on the vision.

  5. jonmell says:

    Thanks for the comments guys!

  6. Pingback: Enterprise 2.0 - Command not control | Jon Mell - Web 2.0 ideas and strategy

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