Turning 2.0 potential into mainstream reality

Andrew McAfee of Harvard University provides an excellent example of effective blogging to a target audience. In 2006 McAfee coined the phase ‘Enterprise2.0’ when he published an article which ring fenced Web2.0 technologies adapted for business to bring real organisational value. Tools such as Wiki’s, Blogs, RSS, Tagging and Search enable users to Search, Link, Author, Tag, Extend, Signal collective information and knowledge. Since 2006 McAfee has taken the mantel of these new business tools and work methods to spread the word of a better way of work together in business.

Being an evangelist you would expect McAfee to be a good Blogging example, however I’m astounded by the sheer volume of hits on his site (6.5m) for such as niche area and the position the site has propelled him to. Ziff Davis Enterprise has ranked McAfee at 38th in their list of ‘the 100 Most Influential People in IT.‘ ,to which McAfee attributes his blog as the ‘main reason I made the list’.

Two years since McAfee’s report Enterprise 2.0 tools remain in the mainstream sidings only offering the potential to bring value and benefits to firms. The most important party in this equation, The Customer, sees the potential but many remain hesitant, unsure and in some cases unconvinced. Here are some thoughts on E2.0 from US CIO’s in February 2008 (CIO Magazine):

Industry consultants and market researchers have found objections to implementing E2.0 tools include: resistance organisational cultural change; the need for an integrated set of E2.0 tools; integration with existing applications and cost. Many E2.0 tools originated from technical innovators, for example Wiki’s (Wiki, Wiki means very quick in Hawaiian) was originally used by software developers for easier documentation and has evolved into business use overtime. These tools have now moved beyond innovators to visionary users who can see the potential business benefits. Reflecting on Geoffrey Moore’s book ‘Crossing the Chasm’ the point of change from the Early adopter (Visionary) to the Early Majority (mainstream), Moore describes the early majorities need for industry specific references, experiences from know relationships, a competitive market and low risk decisions to buy from a reliable provider with a quality, integrated and well supported product set.

Innovation does not stand still and these current E2.0 tools will evolve and change to meet customer needs and problems. As the big boys of the software industry such as IBM, Microsoft and Oracle start to sit up and take notice of the user interest these tools are generating they will start to introduce new offerings. The hyper activity on McAfee blog is perhaps evidence of the potential business users see from E2.0 tools, with suppliers following the potential demand, keen not to miss out on a new wave of innovation.

It remains to be seen which of these tools in their current form will go mainstream and what exactly they will evolve to become over time. One thing we can be sure of is that the underlying problems E2.0 products are helping to solve such as effective team working and information / Knowledge management will not go away. It is highly likely that current problems, such as our increasingly overflowing in-boxes, will continue to scale the priority list until the problems become totally unmanageable and solutions must be found.

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