It Starts With The Seminal Definition of Enterprise 2.0
First, we should start with a definition of Enterprise 2.0. There are as many definitions as there are pundits, and I think it's important to stick to a definition that has been fairly widely adopted by a reputable authority. Therefore I will use Andrew McAfee's definition that he provided here that most closely resonates with my own:
Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.
Social software enables people to rendezvous, connect or collaborate through computer-mediated communication and to form online communities. (Wikipedia’s definition).
Platforms are digital environments in which contributions and interactions are globally visible and persistent over time.
Emergent means that the software is freeform, and that it contains mechanisms to let the patterns and structure inherent in people’s interactions become visible over time.
Freeform means that the software is most or all of the following:The organizers of the Enterprise 2.0 Conference delineate the difference between 1.0 and 2.0 as below:
- Free of up-front workflow
- Egalitarian, or indifferent to formal organizational identities
- Accepting of many types of data
|Enterprise 1.0 ||Enterprise 2.0 |
IT-driven technology / Lack of user control
Teams are in one building / one time zone
Silos and boundaries
Need to know
Information systems are structured and dictated
Closed/ proprietary standards
Long time-to-market cycles
Ease of Organization Flow
Teams are global
Fuzzy boundaries, open borders
Information systems are emergent
Short time-to-market cycles
The false dichotomy between the definitions of Enterprise 1.0 and Enterprise 2.0
These definitions of Enterprise 2.0 and their juxtaposition against the definitions of Enterprise 1.0 are misguided. I am certain based on my experience that the free form emergent world depicted as Enterprise 2.0 is NOT an evolution from the structured world of Enterprise 1.0, but rather, the two will exist in an intertwined tapestry that defines the full breadth of what today's enterprises need to look like. It's extremely unhealthy for our industry to pit these two worlds against each other because they will perpetually co-exist.
I believe a significant part of the problem that crops up in the Enterprise 2.0 value discussions stems from the fact that the champions of Enterprise 2.0 significantly underweight the complexity and pervasiveness of the existing information technologies in the enterprise and the reasons why these technologies evolved. Earlier this week, Miko Matsumura wrote an excellent blog entry entitled Top 5 Definitions of Enterprise: focusing on the Enterprise in "Enterprise 2.0" that really went to the heart of the matter, prompting Michael Krigsman to also reproduce it in his own blog entry to underscore its importance.
The modern information technology environment in the Enterprise looks a lot more like this diagram below from Driven to Perform than just a collection of e-mail, blogs, wikis, etc. that any Enterprise 2.0 overemphasize, although they are clearly part of the fabric woven together in what is commonly referred to as information work.
The rich repository of highly-structured and semi-structured business processes and associated applications and infrastructure necessary to run a modern business can not and likely will not ever migrate to the Enterprise 2.0 definition, nor should they ever, but they will be augmented increasingly by it. We discuss many of them in Driven to Perform and orient them in a cross-enterprise value chain based on Michael Porter's seminal work.
They key activity steps of enterprise business processes embodied into today's ERP, CRM, SCM et al software, such order-to-cash, procure-to-pay, hire-to-retire, or record-to-report need to be highly structured for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is efficiency, their primary reason for being, but also for the significant compliance concerns they address. I don't foresee a point any time in the near future where enterprises will leverage Enterprise 2.0 principles in the core of accounting, or payroll, or order management because there are serious risks to doing so for a business. These enterprise business processes are complicated enough without any unstructured processes surrounding them, as you can see here in this offer creation process, which we diagrammed in Driven to Perform in our chapter on Risk-Aware Marketing Performance Management:
However, what you notice in any enterprise business process like the one above is that there is a lot of white space. The white space is where people are human integrators. Where the various folks from marketing, the contact center, sales, and operations fill in the gaps that their enterprise software does a poor job of addressing today. It is in these process contexts that wikis, blogs, instant messaging, etc. can perform a brilliant and valuable service, and for certain processes, form the entire substrate upon which the enterprise process can be manifest. Thus, ultimately, the real Enterprise 2.0, the weaving of both the structured and unstructured worlds together, really looks a lot more like this:
Enterprise 2.0 technology is only starting to become really enterprise ready
Because of a lack of understanding of how the modern enterprise infrastructure works, my belief is that a lot of the existing E2.0 offerings have gaping holes in them that must be addressed if they are to survive long term in the environment they wish to play in beyond the proverbial "server under someone's desk". I was surprised, for example, during the Google Wave keynote that the speaker referred to the desire to put as few restrictions in place in the security model as possible to ensure the maximum degree of collaboration. Examples like these, among many others, show that there is a long way to go before these tools can be used pervasively in the enterprise without serious repercussions. I am certain that regulations around archiving, audit, document retention, privacy regulations etc. along with technical requirements like delegated authentication, encryption, etc. can not be adequately addressed with many of these tools in their current ungoverned state in the enterprise and this will be a liability in these tools adoption until it's addressed.
It should be noted that the more sophisticated vendors absolutely understand what they need to do to be viable in a truly enterprise context but they are decidedly in the minority. Linden Lab, creators of the Second Life 3D virtual world, had a major announcement at the conference in unveiling Second Life Enterprise that had nothing to do with sexier avatars, but instead decidedly focused on the unsexy topics like providing a private and secure virtual environment with enterprise manageability capabilities. Similarly, Novell, long a networking and infrastructure stalwart from Enterprise 1.0, unveiled Novell Pulse, with a set of enterprise class capabilities on top of Google Wave. These vendors realize that completely unstructured capabilities that do not bolt into the enterprise mechanisms of governance have little chance for broadscale adoption.
Conversely, leading enterprise application players like Workday are starting from the robust ERP and HCM process perspective of the so-called "Enterprise 1.0" world and layering many social constructs such as tagging, inline collaboration, etc. into their applications to deliver on this converged Enterprise 2.0 notion I describe above. This movement from the process-based applications to embrace the unstructured social world is well summarized by R Ray Wang's notion of Social Enterprise Apps, which combine the process and social worlds:
Unfortunately, the current Enterprise 2.0 dialogue has much room for improvement because we are all talking past each other. When I was asked by Jennifer Leggio to contribute to her blog entry entitled 2010 Predictions: Will social media reach ubiquity? , I responded:
In 2009, a tremendous amount of noise in the marketplace surrounding social media has reached a fever pitch and this threatens to drown out its potential effect to be transformative in the enterprise. Those projects and vendors that customers were willing to experiment with in 2009 will need to tie their efforts to concrete performance improvements in order to remain viable as social media’s sheen of being the new kid on the block wears off.
I realize that Jennifer's request was about social media, and social media does not equal Enterprise 2.0, but I think it's fair to equate the usage of social media technologies within the Enterprise as a loose approximation of the term, and that is what spurred my response.
To be certain, there is a raging debate in response to this hype in the enterprise and as supporters become more zealous the detractors become more incendiary. Dennis Howlett kicked things off with his August 26, 2009 post Enterprise 2.0: what a crock, arguing that:
Like it or not, large enterprises - the big name brands - have to work in structures and hierarchies that most E2.0 mavens ridicule but can’t come up with alternatives that make any sort of corporate sense. Therein lies the Big Lie. Enterprise 2.0 pre-supposes that you can upend hierarchies for the benefit of all. Yet none of that thinking has a credible use case you can generalize back to business types - except: knowledge based businesses such as legal, accounting, architects etc. Even then - where are the use cases? I’d like to know.
Needless to say, it received a lot of attention. In response, an entire panel discussion was convened at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference literally entitled "Is Enterprise 2.0 A Crock?". In the panel, an excellent summary of which you can read here by my ex-SAP colleague Timo Elliott, it was absolutely clear that the customers, represented by marquis brand names like EMC, Eli Lilly, and Alcatel-Lucent, saw clear value in their deployments, but it was also clear that it was very hard to quantify what that value was. What was most disappointing however was that there was no debate. All the participants were predisposed to believing Enterprise 2.0 was not a crock, which defeated the point of such a session. This spurred yet another round of salvos such as Enterprise 2.0 - the non-debate from Dennis Howlett, where I was quoted about my disappointment in the lack of debate, and Miko Matsumura's balanced perspective in The Enterprise 2.0 Crock. This prompted Susan Scrupski, who has done a remarkable job in a short period of time with the 2.0 Adoption Council, to fire back with her own post entitled "Checkmate" which listed a veritable who's who list of incredible brand names who are all part of the council and who clearly see the value in Enterprise 2.0.
Who's right? They are actually both legitimate perspectives, and I am convinced they can be reconciled. Fortunately, I am not the only one.
Strategy-Driven Execution is the path to legitimizing
Sameer Patel who writes the excellent Pretzel Logic blog and Oliver Marks, whose Collaboration 2.0 blog is very popular are both highly-regarded thought leaders in the
In Driven to Perform, we looked at dozens of business processes and described the key roles, collaboration points, and metrics that surround those business processes to drive business performance. Using this framework, we can now start to ask questions that put serious metrics on top of
Driven to Perform is filled with literally hundreds of examples of the ways
So, Is Enterprise 2.0 a Savior or a Charlatan?
It could be either. The keys to answering this question lie in your understanding of your goals, your current enterprise processes, and their associated metrics. Without knowing this, we'll all continue talking past each other to our mutual detriment.