Why Web 2.0 in the enterprise makes sense?

Historically, we’ve seen that the applicaions that have been popular/successful in the consumer world have been usually successful in the enterprise space. Instant messaging is a great example. What started out as ICQ, has been so immensly valuable and impactful that it made its obvious entry within the enterprise. Microsoft has products like Live Communication Server and Office Communicator, IBM has SameTime and then we have Jabber. On the other hand, successful enterprise concepts have made their way into the consumer space. Take email for instance.

Besides historic trends, there are several semantics that play a role in determining the success of a software within the enterprise. I have been thinking lately about the value that an enterprise setting adds to the successful deployment and use of a particular software. Jeff Clavier made a valid point about the obvious tension between the legacy IT department, which runs on a command/control structure and the open/participation oriented nature of social software.  I want to focus on the positive side of an enterprise setting.

What does an enterprise setting offer:

1. Authentication and accountability: Since a user  can be traced through Active Directory (good bye annonymous comments and spam!), it can add measurable value to the social aspect of the enterprise. Various aspects of social software can be applied with respect to group policies and Access Control Lists.

2. Accountable uptime. No downtime (see Salesforce.com’s recent experience.)

3. Better integration with existing meaningful application. Enterprises already have a rich set of ERP applications. The social software can add a new layer of UI metaphors that will dramatically increase the value of existing ERP applications.

Some of the thoughts bouncing in my mind include:

How long does it take for a successful consumer application to be adopted within the enterprise? (my guess is two years, from when it became prevalent in the consumer space. Would it be faster/slower with Web 2.0?

Which Web 2.0 concepts make the most sense in the enterprise? (I know Jeff Nolan and Ross Mayfield (SocialText) are very optimistic about Wikis and I totally agree. What is beyond that?) I liked Charlene Li’s report on social computing.

If Jeff (Clavier or Nolan) stumble upon this, I would like to hear your take on this.

Zoli Erdos, has very detailed notes of TiE’s panel discussion on Web 2.0 in the enterprise. I found it extremely useful.

I also enjoyed Rod Boothby’s and Tim Leberecht’s take on it.

Anshu Sharma, has a list of open questions on the topic on his Wise Zen blog.

Loose control!

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6 thoughts on “Why Web 2.0 in the enterprise makes sense?

  1. Line of business apps dominate enterprise. Web 2.0 has good implications for them, but IT departments need ‘control’ as you pointed out. Wikis are a good example of social collaboration within an enterprise, but I’m not sure how good the uptake is so far. Information exchange in enterprises tends to be ‘push down’ centrally, rather than peer/social collaboration, mostly because the usability of all these technologies is still fairly geeky. IM is highly successful of course, and email, but they are really easy & intuitive to use. If Wiki’s or blogs were say integrated into Word or OneNote (which are end-user friendly, well to an extent..), it would be pretty straight forward to get these technologies adopted. The interesting observation here is that things need to be dumbed down *more* for an enterprise desktop user than a consumer. ‘Tis indeed true.

  2. I like your observation:
    “The interesting observation here is that things need to be dumbed down *more* for an enterprise desktop user than a consumer.”
    Why do you think it is like that?

  3. IT admins control enterprise users’ desktops. Complexity in the desktop, user interface, software translates directly to more overhead and cost for the IT dept. Ergo, enterprise users need simplicity more than home users. Home users tap their geeky relatives, friends or even Circuit City with practically little or no cost. Many home users also tend to be ‘hobbyists’ and love to use all the various technologies available. Which is why innovation on the home user front is much more marketable than innovation on the desktop.
    The key is ‘control’ for enterprise users, and for home users it is ‘flexibility’. Those can be at odds.. no?

  4. IBM validates enterprise social software

    IBM recently announced the introduction of the first suite of social networking applications for the

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