Having versus Using Enterprise 2.0 Software

May 15, 2009 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Gil Yehuda wrote a very good post today Enterprise 2.0 Thoughts to end the week. He talks about Enterprise 2.0 maturity, second wave adoption, focus on work, and levels of the conversation. It's a great post you should read in full and reflect on. One particular point caught my attention; Gil says: "... having a wiki, forum, blogs, etc. on the intranet and using a wiki, forum, blog effectively to improve the transparency and productivity of collaboration are very different indicators of progress."

Businesses (or vendors) who say “We have a wiki; we have a blog; we’re an Enterprise 2.0 company” remind me businesses in 1995 who said “We have a web page; we’re an internet company”.

I like Andrew McAfee’s analysis in general and his specific observation - backed by studies that he cites: “… since the 1990’s a combination of the Web and IT spending on enterprise information systems has shifted the ability of businesses to recognize and deploy good ideas; that this has raised the pace and level of competition, making effective innovation more valuable, and more strongly differentiates winners and losers in competitive markets.”

McAfee further claims that the Web and IT changes they analyze appear to be step functions:

This new, nastier competition does not depend on continued IT innovation. It only depends on continued managerial innovation. If all the technology vendors were to close up shop tomorrow competition in all industries would not eventually revert to where it was prior to the mid-1990s. The current IT toolkit lets companies propagate business ideas faster, more broadly, and with higher fidelity. That’s all that’s necessary to increase the pace of competition, and to keep it high. Of course, the tech vendors are not about to shut themselves down and we’ll see a lot more innovation from them; this will only serve to further increase competitive nastiness. But technology innovation is the icing on the cake of managerial innovation. - Andrew McAfee; Curb My Enthusiasm

The technology of Enterprise 2.0 is most significant as an enabler of new patterns of communication, collaboration and awareness that astute businesses can use to gain a sustainable competitive advantage. I believe this is very similar to W. Edwards Deming’s work which enabled businesses in Japan and the rest of the world to gain great competitive advantages by continual improvement of processes and systems.


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