Must we stop using the social networking analogy to explain enterprise 2.0 ?

By Bertrand Duperrin posted 07-03-2010 06:09


Enterprise 2.0 is a set of technologies, management and business practices, HR and legal framework that can be used for many purposes what makes it hard to say exactly what it is in a few words. It gets even worth when it comes to qualify enterprise 2.0 solutions because of the many experiences that can be looked for. Innovation, social networking, market predictions, wikis, blogs, rich profiling...all derserve the enterprise 2.0 label while sometimes looking very different.

The most used analogy is "social networking" because it cas embed all or many of the above so it's a rather easy concept to introduce both of technological and behavioral side of enterprise 2.0. As a matter of fact everybody have heard about social networks like Facebook or Twitter, many people have a facebook account and most of them are actually using it.

So Facebook seems to be the best enterprise 2.0 advocate when it comes to introduce things to novices. Even people who hate the comparison end to admit "ok...that's facebook for the enterprise" in order to confuse their interlocutors whith too complicated concepts.The paradox is that the said interlocutor often says himself "that's a corporate facebook" because he knows what it is and it helps him understanding what it can be used for, but, at the same time, he realizes he does not want facebook in the workplace because what he know about it is that it helps people connecting and sharing information to do anything except work.

Moreover, many Facebook heavy users don't have any idea of what to do when they're provided with a Facebook-like application in the workplace. Once again because social networks usages are often considered being personal and not work-related.

So Facebook (and social networks in general) are at the same time the best and the worse enterprise 2.0 advocates.

What should we learn from that :

- the difference between web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0, social networks and enterprise social networks is not in the product but in usage scenarios in context. But we already knew it.

- the value of any product is not in the product itself but in the change/adoption/business process rethinking (choose your prefered) program that comes with. Technology can be, in the worse case, an inhibitor, in the best case a catalyst, but will never fulfill the promise alone. That's known by the enterprise 2.0 world, still not enough by the enterprise world, and is still a problem for many vendors because it's hard to say that the value of the technology that's sold is in the service that comes with or will be provided by a third party. 

- enterprise 2.0 is a promising and rich idea that comes with a lot of unfortunate words and concepts.

Many of the discussions that followed the last Enterprise 2.0 Conference showed that Enterprise 2.0 reached a kind of maturity but has now to explore new frontiers. Maybe it has to get rid of its origins and the whole thing has to be rethought, rebranded etc... to become a standalone business discipline because if many businesses are ready to buy the promise they don't want to buy the history that comes with.

#EnterpriseSocialNetworks #enterprise2.0 #socialnetworks