Just Add Enterprise

If you read here, you’ll know I’m not a fan of the term Enterprise 2.0, at least not when it’s used to refer to Web 2.0 practiced behind the firewall.

I know why people feel the need to differentiate Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0; Web 2.0 suffers from an image problem, i.e. it’s associated with sites that serious business people find trivial.

MySpace. Need I say more.

But now that everyone seems to be jumping on the 2.0 train, including the suits, people seem even more determined to call their stuff Enterprise 2.0. Sure, I get it. Give the customer a warm cozy feeling that this very serious product is not in anyway like a toy.

Remember when the Intertubes was new? If not, read about it on Wikipedia. When I first started at Oracle, we needed secure net keys to get outside the corporate firewall. Companies didn’t see value; they saw risk. Vendors adjusted, inventing business-friendly words like “intranet” and “extranet”.

Years later, I often hear wishful musings about making this or that company’s intranet more like the Internet. Thanks Google.

+1 the openness of the Interweb makes it more ripe with innovation.
-1 the openness of the Interweb makes it more ripe with security problems.

Most times people who insist on “enterprise”-ing me, say the difference is security. This is just wrong. Take Facebook as an example. They’ve had very high profile struggles with security and privacy advocates, including state and local governments. Social networks know they have to safeguard privacy and provide secure environments in order to exist.

Now consider the enterprise. Everyone at your company has something in common. They all work at your company. You probably have photos of your family on your desk at work that everyone can see. Would you do that online at Flickr or Facebook?

Working for the same employer adds implicit trust into the equation, or at least the safety blanket of knowing your company can enforce certain standards of security, decency and privacy, with legal and fiduciary consequences.

Who enforces those at Facebook or MySpace? Or on the Interwebs at all?

Take your time.

Oh, I know, the terms of use. If violated, you can’t use the network any more.

My point is that social networks out in the wild have to worry about security and privacy all the time even in their sleep, or they do not exist. Plus they have millions of users, not thousands or hundreds, making the scale of the problem much worse.

Take away the “security makes it enterprise” argument, and I’ve not heard any other reasons why Enterprise 2.0 exists other than the warm fuzzy it gives customers and prospects. Maybe, it connects enterprise data to Web 2.0 goodness. That’s a stretch, and not many companies do that, aside from pulling employees out of the corporate LDAP.

Just so we’re clear, I’m not against any product or company calling itself Enterprise 2.0. I just think we could either do better naming-wise or stick with Web 2.0, which is pretty well entrenched by now.

If I’m missing something obvious, sound off in comments.




  1. I would think Enterprise 2.0 would be about delivering and integrating the usefulness of Web 2.0 into your business. Yes, that would mean single-sign-on, but it would also mean connecting it into your CRM or your development environment, figuring out how to use the technology for your business and then doing it (both technically and in practice).

    So how exactly do you use it in supply chain management or marketing or product development and is there anything additional to be created to make it work?

    For newsletters, can you create articles, review them (most likely using blogs and comments, but probably also setting publish switches and perhaps completion status) and then select the ones you want to publish, select the target audience and have it automatically go out in the corporate-approved format. The answer is surely yes, but also requires additional things to be coded and customized for your business.

    I think about those standards imposed by the business, about the desire to integrate with “knowledge bases” (CRM system, or shared file system or whatever) and simply see an alternate set of uses. Maybe that's not radically different, but it is likely something a company would pay extra for that a typical web user probably wouldn't care too much about.

    Just a thought.

  2. Sure, I get what Web 2.0 can do in an enterprise. But there's no real reason to make this grandiose distinction between Web 2.0 in/outside the firewall.

    You mention “standards” and “knowledge bases” which are corporate buzzwords, so doesn't Web 2.0 already have those already? Or at least they're already moving that way? RESTful APIs, OpenSocial, Data Portability aren't official standards, but supporting them allows you to do more. Flickr, Box.net, Google Apps are all non-traditional knowledge bases.

    By calling something Enterprise 2.0, the implication is that it's not Web 2.0. Most E 2.0 really is Web 2.0 with a spin. However, the risk I see is companies building convoluted software and apps for enterprises that lose the social benefits of Web 2.0.

  3. Jake, Totally get your point and completely agree.

    I do think, however, figuring out how to harness the value of web2.0 inside a business, to the benefit of corporate objectives is goodness and does warrant articulation, focus and [gasp] strategy. I'm not talking about how to get IM clients to an entire workforce or how to control tag entries against a “blacklist” of inappropriate language. I'm talking about a strategic focus on how to break down organizational barriers when they get in the way of innovation, communication, ideation, etc. etc.

    In addition I'm talking about aligning this community around the goals of the business so that all this community-goodness is channelled to the best strategic benefit of the company. Now that is something that I can get behind, and I don't care what you call it!

  4. So you do “however” agree with me 🙂 Oddly put.

    Communities have different goals. Business is a community. Facebook is a community. I'm reading that as exactly agreeing with me.

    However, I agree with you.

  5. Web 2.0 is as much a social, cultural, and economic phenomenon as it is a technological one. If any company actually achieves Enterprise 2.0, it won't be because that company bought a few tools. It will be because that company embraced the necessary vertical-to-horizontal organizational transformation.

  6. I like you already. “If any company actually achieves Enterprise 2.0” is a classic line, and completely true. We should hang out sometime. Seriously.

  7. This is a really interesting argument, and one we are also having in EMEA at this very moment.

    I do agree that Web 2.0 suffers from an image problem. When you mention “Web 2.0” people tend to think that this refering to a “suite of new generation tools”. But Web 2.0 is much more than just tools as you know.

    So should Web 2.0 in the workplace be rebranded to “Enterprise 2.0”? Maybe this is just a marketing ploy to get the suits on board with the concept. If it is, and it does, does the end result justify the means?

    So here's my dilema. I have to engage and raise awareness to Web 2.0 to the business comunity in Oracle EMEA. How do I brand the communication? Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0? Maybe I should use both?

    Answers on a postcard …..

  8. I didn't offer any suggestions, but steering entirely clear of both might be best. I've heard “socialprise” which isn't bad, but requires explanation. I generally use New Web or Web 2.0, and then apply an enterprise somewhere, e.g. Web 2.0 in the enterprise.

    The problem is that Web 2.0 is in people's heads as something to care about, but also something that's for kids and therefore can't be for big serious business.

    Maybe this time next year someone will have coined a better term.

  9. In my opinion, Enterprise 2.0 is also about integrating legacy systems with Web 2.0 technologies with the ultimate goal of maximizing business value. Think about a B2C system that uses Web 2.0 technologies for shopping cart and still integrates with legacy inventory, billing and GL systems on a mainframe system. Opportunities of this kind are Enterprise 2.0 in my opinion. From skills and competencies perspective what is need is a best blend of business process, legacy and new Web 2.0 technologies for success in a Enterprise 2.0 context.

  10. This post is about the term “Enterprise 2.0”. I think it's derivative and not very descriptive, and we could do better. I like the way Bob summed up the difference in his comment above; Web 2.0 isn't a about technology, it's about people. Adding 2.0 to a company won't magically transform it without people.

  11. Jake – I agree with you and Bob Rhubart on this. Social media is really beneficial out in the consumer world, and there are some very compelling use cases inside the enterprise. But two things need to happen. One, the corporate culture needs to be open to employee participation and responsive when something emerges that doesn't fit what senior management was thinking.

    And two, social media participation is still somewhat small out there right now. Asking employees who may not be on social networks or Twitter to suddenly start to participate is a big deal. You can't just drop a load of software on them and say, “have at it!”. Employees will need some help getting there.

    I did write a blog post on exactly this subject, “Do Companies Need Social Media Managers?” It's here, if you want to check it out: http://tinyurl.com/5aglkw

    BTW – I like that you've got disqus enabled.

  12. I think adding social, e.g. socialprise, is much closer to reality. I'll check out your post. Use cases are always key, and generally, conversations end up there. When you position New Web at pain points, you win.

    We're on the fence so far about Disqus; maybe you can elaborate why you like it?

  13. Re: disqus. As a commenter, I like seeing where I've left comments and having an easy reference page for follow-up. I like the 'follow' feature, where I can see what others are saying. I also like that your comments can stream into FriendFeed, where the conversation can also extend. When you're on my blog, check out today's post, “Could WordPress.com Create a Disqus Killer?”. It's got a good description of what I like about disqus, both from a commenter and blogger perspective.

    Things I've heard that people don't like:
    – No trackback/pingback feature. Trackbacks cannot display as comments.
    – Lack of blogger admin features

    Techmeme had a few posts about disqus today. Check it out, worth a read: http://www.techmeme.com/080516/p9#a080516p9

  14. No trackbacks is big fail for me. The other stuff is nice to have and makes it a win over regular comments. I find it slows the load time a bit, and it does add another failure point to the equation.

    Sitting on the fence. Of course, the longer we go with it, the harder it will be to return to regular comments and lose all these.

  15. We heard about the event pretty late in the game from Jay Simons and didn't make it out to Chicago. Sounds like a sweet event.

    Do you have a link for McAfee's session/keynote? Drop me a note, and we can talk about AppsLab and helping out, if you want. We always like help.

  16. In the Corporate environment we need an application when I get a proposal from a customer that asks for an integration with BI, ECM, and CRM, I can go to my 'Oracle Connect' and open my 'Find Consultant' application where I check off the products BI, ECM and CRM”. Then that app then lists all of my “Friends” who have that skill and if non do, then tells me about anyone in the world who does. It does this by checking the skills matrix data regarding my friends skills. It then shows who of those people happen to be online.

    We are not talking about technology, but application. Web 2.0 uses AJAX, E2.0 uses AJAX. Just like enterprise software (ERP, CRM, BI) and consumer software (MS Word, Excel, Movie Maker ), may all be programmed in C++ using Object Oriented techniques, but the classification is still useful because E2.0 apps and Web2.0 apps are not going to be the same (may have overlap), but they will use the same underlying techniques.

    We are in the business of selling software that is useful to companies. So the whole point is to build applications for companies that will be useful to companies using the techniques Web2.0 has created.

    I know we have a product mismatch, WebCenter Vs. Ruby on Rails, lightweight / heavyweight too… but that can be discussed some other time.


  17. I just don't care for the term. I know what it means. I understand it. I get it. I just think it's non-descriptive and amorphous. People struggle to define what Web 2.0 is, so basing another term on Web 2.0 makes definition even tougher.

    And I never focus on technology in the “what is” conversation. Anything 2.0 focuses on people, not technology.

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