This is the one in answer to a recent post by provocateur Dennis Howlett in which Howlett asked whether Enterprise 2.0 is in fact a crock. Moderated by David Berlind from TechWeb he had a bevvy of Enterprise 2.0 practitioners.

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.

Five principles;

  • Workforce transformation
  • Business process/operations
  • Intellectual property/Privacy/governance
  • Religious wars (technology/generational biases)
  • Bottom line business benefits

Greg Lowe from Alcatel-Lucent talked about their desire to unlock institutionalized knowledge and enable collaboration. Berlind asks why that desire is any different now from in the past. Lowe’s answer was that tools and technologies available today enable those aims. Claire Flanagan from CSC and Bruce Galinsky from Metlife agreed that it’s the technologies that really enable the promise of sharing and co-creating.

Berlind asks how that actually transforms the workforce. Megan Murray from Booz Allen Hamilton says this is happening no matter – expectations are higher on both the organization’s and the employee’s sides. Enterprise 2.0 technologies are enabling that to happen faster, better and more readily.

Berlind asked about the cultural change that needs to occur within an organization. Bryce Williams from Eli Lilly agreed and said that they see Enterprise 2.0 as a gateway to moving the organization into a more open approach – it’s the “starter drug” to get the organization hooked on open communications.

Jamie Pappas from EMC mentioned that Enterprise 2.0 isn’t a cure all or fix all – it’s an enabler and relies on the advocates throughout the organization to adopt it.

Much discussion about business process – have we hit the wall in terms of agility? No – it’s just baby steps and there are profound benefits yet to be realized.

Governance, there is a culture shift happening and the technology needs to keep up. One good approach can be called “participatory governance” where those who have skin in the game develop the governance models for those tools but do so in concert with the traditional governance approached.

The intellectual property concerns. All panelists agreed that organizations need to stop not trusting their employees. People are generally inherently good and those who are not will always find ways to maliciously expose data. Sure put good governance in place but beyond that trust the people to do the right thing. “I can’t stop you from doing stupid things but I can make it visible when you do them”.

In terms of the business value the difficulty is that its very hard to show true metrics for the gains that can be made form enterprise 2.0 – there are significant anecdotal benefits that need to be extrapolated to an organization-wide benefit. Booz Allen Hamilton gave an example where a 3000 employee reply-all email was analyzed and once the cost of people replying and unsubscribing was taken into account, there was an internal cost of $250000 – enterprise 2.0 can solve many of those issues. Extrapolating that up through the organization, the contention is that if a simple thing like reply-all can create such costs for an organization, high level operations can drive huge benefits.

It was very much a case of the converted preaching to the converted – it’ll be interesting to see what the originator of the title has to say about what the panelists had to offer.

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

1 Comment
  • Hi Ben,

    I made a very serious attempt to bridge the perspectives in my blog post entitled “Is Enterprise 2.0 a Savior or a Charlatan? How Strategy-Driven Execution can pave the path to proving legitimate business performance” located here:

    I would certainly welcome your feedback and look forward to a continued dialogue around the topic.

    Best Regards,


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