Monday, August 31, 2009

Enterprise 2.0 is a process, not a solution



If we take out the less sustainable parts from social media, what do we have left? It’s surely not the tools and solutions. The tools and solutions will come and go, just as they always have.

The real shift that is manifested by social media is that we have taken our attitudes and behaviors from our real world social life to the web. We have the same needs to express ourselves, meet new people and so on as we have always had as human beings (social by nature), but with the web we now have new and more powerful ways to satify them. Thus the web has become an extension of our "real" lives.

The social web (I like this term better than Web 2.0 and social media to describe this development) is being built on values such as informality, dialog, participation, honesty, trust, openness, directness, and so on. But how do these values translate to a corporate context? If we just take the tools and solutions from the social web and implement them in a corporate context, will people start sharing, interacting and collaborating as freely and readily as they do on the social web?

Definitely not.

The values which are dominating the social web are not necessarily dominating at work. Work is often a highly competitive environment. People compete for salary raises and status, and when doing so they don't necessarily act in the same as they do to achieve a higher social status outside work.

Having said this, let's go back to the discussion about the definition and meaning of Enterprise 2.0.

I believe we are at a point where we can take either one of the following views on Enterprise 2.0: either we see it a solution, or we see it as a process. I'm with Gil Yehuda (and Sameer Patel) on this one. As Yehuda writes in his post “Denial is a river full of crocks” (great post by the way):
I don’t believe “Enterprise 2.0″ is a solution, I believe it is a description. I agree with the bold statement in Sameer Patel’s post: Enterprise 2.0 is a state that Enterprises achieve by employing an appropriate set of social computing concepts. I word it my way: “Enterprise 2.0 describes a transformed organization.”
Enterprise 2.0 needs to be seen as a process, not a solution ("process" is a better term than "state", which I previously used - see comment below by Tom Graves). As a matter of fact, I think it quite useless otherwise because when the tools and solutions have gone, Enterprise 2.0 will be an empty vessel without either destination or direction.

What we need to do now is to define the transformation which is needed, and when doing so we should put the emphasis on the values and principles needed to be successful in this transformation.

You might agree or disagree on this point, but nevertheless I think it is safe to say that Enterprise 2.0 since long has got a life of its own, independent of the person who originally coined it. It is up to us together to fill it with purpose.