Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why McAfees definition of Enterprise 2.0 is flawed



I have been involved in a discussion on Twitter yesterday with Sameer Patel (@SameerPatel), Dennis Howlett (@dahowlett) and Tom Graves (@tetradian) regarding the following:
  • Signs that Enterprise 2.0 is being hijacked by vendors
  • Andrew McAfee's technology-centric definition of Enterprise 2.0
Both of these things are counterproductive to what many of us want to achieve with Enterprise 2.0; boosting productivity, innovation etc. Once again, we might forget to pay enough attention to the key dimension in any effort aimed at improving of the operations and management of a business: the human (social) dimension. Just as Knowledge Management (1.0) has been declared dead due to the numerous technology-centric KM initiatives that neglected the human dimension of KM and hence failed, if we see enough Enterprise 2.0 initiatives making the same mistake, Enterprise 2.0 will most likely face the same destiny. Unless we do something about it now.

Today, Tom Graves published some of his reflections from this discussion in a post called "Annoyed at ‘Enterprise 2.0′":
"To me, a core aspect of an enterprise’s architecture revolves around the role of conversation in collaboration and cooperation - the human side of business knowledge, as expressed within the broader enterprise that extends beyond the organisation’s borders. Hence a natural interest in what’s been labelled ‘Enterprise 2.0′, which, on the surface at least, is about the centrality of those conversations, and active support for them within the enterprise."

"The catch is that that isn’t what the ’standard’ definition of ‘Enterprise 2.0′ by Andrew McAfee actually says. Instead, it’s all about the software...//...People are not even mentioned in the definition at all. Neither is the enterprise - nor the actual purpose of any of this. It’s just about software, and characteristics of that software."
In order not to forget the human dimension, we need to constantly remind ourselves about it. So, the least thing we can ask from a definition of Enterprise 2.0 is that it does just that. In this sense, McAfee's definition of Enterprise 2.0 is flawed. It is missing what made the social web to the social web - the people, not the technology.