I’ve been observing and getting into a lot of discussions recently regarding Enterprise 2.0. This is probably because I was following the Twitter feed for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference last week. I have always liked the concept, 2.0 moniker aside, because I have always viewed it as the next step to realizing the goals in Knowledge Management.
One of the discussions is whether Enterprise 2.0 is evolutionary or revolutionary. The simplest answer is yes. How others answer this question is most likely directly related to their belief in the importance of the technology in the equation of building Enterprise 2.0 success.
The Evolving Technology…
I would hope that most people would agree that the technology involved is just the next step in the evolution of collaborative platforms. Let’s look at a few components…
I could have written a Blog back in the 1990’s. I almost did for a game that I played. I just didn’t have the time to really sit down and update a website with the latest “news/stories” that I wanted to publish. I had to update links, move things around, archive my old content…it was a hassle. Now I just pull out a little rich text editor, type up my post, and click publish. Links are Web 1.0 stuff and comments are just small discussion forums associated directly with a post versus an interest area. All those cool widgets, portal technology from the early part of this decade.
Blogs are clearly evolutionary.
Wikis are just rich-text documents with version control, simple linking, and a mechanism to handle edit conflicts. Each item is nothing new. At this point, Wikis aren’t new.
Twitter, just a way to use the SMS protocol to group and sort statements. My “feed” is nothing more than the results of a search of all tweets that mention my name or are from a list of people I follow. Each of their names is just a search term on the “author” field of a tweet. Nothing complex in concept, just some good technology to implement.
Web 2.0 tools are evolutionary. Placed in the workplace on an Enterprise 2.0 platform, still just the next step. The revolution is HOW we use them.
Worker of the World Unite!
I think the revolution comes when the tools are given to organizations that already collaborates. They might not collaborate across different operational units, but if they work together during the course of their day, the roots of the culture are there. Maybe they chat over the water cooler or wander down to each other’s offices, but they work together. The culture is there, ready for better tools to enable better collaboration.
For those organizations it is only a shift in the mindset to open up and work with everyone with an interest and something to contribute. If you give them the tools and make it easy and intuitive for them to use those tools, you can drive adoption. If you get the adoption, you’ll get the revolution.
The Enterprise 2.0 revolution is about people working together in ways that weren’t possible, or at least not feasible, in the past. The Enterprise 2.0 evolution is about the technology. Without the people and the technology working together, you may as well go back to trying to collaborate in email and live with all of those problems.
2 thoughts on “The Evolving Enterprise 2.0 Revolution”
Laurence, I think your separation of the tools and their impact is spot on. The whole E2.0 evolution-revolution discussion may seem like a bunch of pundits arguing about some buzzwords (and to a degree it is), but at the core it’s about the severity of the change we’re witnessing. That change is definitely revolutionary in its nature, since it completely changes the rules by which society and business operate. But as you point it out, what makes it revolutionary is how people use the technologies. Light bulb was a revolutionary technology that led to equally revolutionary changes. Social technologies are a product of evolution, but the behaviors they have enabled and triggered are nothing short of revolutionary.
One of my favorite Clay Shirky quotes is that “tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.”
The E2.0 toolset is clearly evolving. It’s now reached the point where many of the underlying technologies are well understood. So we’ve now set the stage for revolutionary changes in corporate culture and governance.
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