Enterprise 2.0 is Web 2.0 for companies. Some have called it “Consumerprise”, but whatever your term, you get the idea – applying successful concepts from the consumer web to companies. This type of thinking is the driving force behind any start-up that defines itself as “DIGG for the Enterprise” or similar.
The more I see companies sprouting up that claim to be in the Enterprise 2.0 space, the more I see the same issue. They don’t really have a value proposition. At a recent conference roundtable, the same question kept coming up: “What is the value you are providing?” Sadly you would see the parade of non-answers like “people can share” and “teams can collaborate”. It reminded me of the days of knowledge management vendors (remember what happened to them?)
Here’s the ROI story from the KM days… “If each person saves 5 minutes a day and you have 5,000 employees at an average salary of $100k a year, then you are saving $&^&^@#.
These soft dollar justifications just don’t fly.” There is a reason we aren’t using KM systems today.
Now I am not saying there is no business case or ROI around Enterprise 2.0. I am just saying that it hasn’t been nailed yet, and we would be wise to sharpen our pencils on this front.
Herein lies the rub. You see, in the free trial world of consumer, install-less, software people will try anything – especially if its new and cool. Of course there has to be some value provided, but there is zero barrier to entry. Taking these ideas to a CIO is an altogether different matter. It is a sale based on limited attention, competiting dollars, and devoted to a clear and justifiable ROI. You quickly run into questions on security, scalability, performance, Integration, SSO, and much much more.
My advice to any company trying to push their product into the enterprise space is to get very, very clear on their value. In the mind of the CIO all of these very hip tools have to compete with very real priorities of actually running a business. The sad reality is that most IT departments are buried in keeping the lights on with upgrades and maintenance of their ERP and legacy systems. They have so little time for the new, fun, interesting, “value added” projects that any new “2.0” app will have to fit in with those priorities and those plans. They think very differently because they actually live and breath the challenges of large scale IT, they hear from users who are unhappy, they answer to security threats. It is a different world and most of the start-ups simply have not seen this type of buyer.