This is another "Observations from the Blogosphere" post. There has been a lot of teeth-gnashing recently about Wikipedia's decision to delete the new entry for the term "Enterprise 2.0". You can get a sense of it here. The term was originated by Harvard Business School Associate Professor Andrew McAfee in the MIT Sloan Management Review article called "Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration".
The Wikipedians have a set of rules that govern entries in Wikipedia (WP for short). The entry for "Enterprise 2.0" was deemed not to meet the rules. I do not have much of a problem with that. It is their enterprise and they can manage it how they want it (if you do not like, you can start your own with your publishing standards -- open source is a great thing from that perspective).
I think there is a lot more fuss about this than there needs to be -- at this point. There is a lot more work to do to flesh out what is meant by "Enterprise 2.0". I do not think the focus should be on a WP entry (it is not the like the WP entry for "Web 2.0" adds much to its discussion of Web 2.0 anyway). The focus should be on defining the principles for "Enterprise 2.0".
On a side note, I am getting tired of all of the "2.0s" -- Web 2.0, Office 2.0, now Enterprise 2.0. It is gaining ground on new TLAs (three-letter acronyms) for existing markets in terms of annoyance.
Whatever we end up calling it, there is clearly a convergence of forces that are reshaping business applications (in no particular order):
- Consumerization of IT (e.g., Office 2.0 -- see I can use the buzzwords effectively)
- Business Process Outsourcing
- Service-Oriented Architecture and Business Process Platforms
- User Angst at the Flexibility and Cost of their Business Applications
just to name a few. So, I am not going to continue to talk about what is wrong, I will give my $0.02 on the guilding principles:
- Improve end-to-end business processes - break down silos and include system and manual activities while
- Increasing user-centricity - I should write a whole post on this, but in a nutshell, applications started out as a way to automate functions that were manual. Companies were organized around those functions so the target users were associated with those functions. Over time, as Business Process Reengineering (BPR) came into vogue, companies tried to break down the functional silos. To some extent there was success, but more often than not functional organizations remained intact and the systems tried to improve coordination of those silos. The end result was that an individual ended up needing to participate in many formal and ad-hoc processes that were automated in many different systems and with many different user interfaces. The processes may have improved, but the user experience (and productivity) was, and is, far from optimal. Portals, with single sign-on, have been a step in the right direction, but combining portals with user-controlled mashups/composite applications will be a next step. As the next generation enters the workforce, they will have different expectations from their exposure to consumer applications and will want much more control over their work environment.
- Enhance Flexibility While Still Allowing Standardization -- In all of the rush to talk about the goodness of SOA and its ability to improve the flexibility to change applications as business needs change, many forget that standardization is also important. It is pretty simple to think about -- I should strive for flexibility for processes that are strategic (key to the success of the business) and I should strive for standardization of processes that are tactical (they are a cost of doing business). At its most extreme, standardization leads to outsourcing (multiple companies can use the same standard process). Enterprise 2.0 has to address the reality that needs change over time. What is strategic today may be tactical tomorrow. In addition, it needs to support a variety of different models for business process and technology delivery (e.g., on-premise, SaaS, BPO). Most organizations are going to have a mixed bag. That is why Gartner's research on Business Process Platform is so important (I know it is a shameless plug). Customers need to take control of their platform to manage this balancing act.
- Innovation on Business Models -- One of the lessons from the consumer world is that there are opportunities for vendors to create new business models to monetize their technology. Google connected the dots between the vast information it was collecting in its search business and advertising revenue. For enterprise applications, subscription-based pricing has been a big change, but probably only the beginning. I expect that in "Enterprise 2.0" we will see vendors emerge that have very different business models from the traditional license model. I have some ideas on potential models, but I do not want some VC snapping it up without getting some sort of royalty :).
Ok, that is my starter set (I do not have more time to brainstorm at this point). In the ZDNet post linked to at the beginning of this post, there were a number of other takes on this. What would you add (or take off the list)?