Enterprise 2.0 in a Box

    November 8, 2006

A small dream of mine came true. We’ve been preaching an ecosystem of tools for some time now. We’ve helped customers stitch them together in interesting ways.

In fact, Andrew McAfee’s original article on Enterprise 2.0 was borne from observing what was happening in one of our customers and projecting into the future. Well, future happens fast.

Looking back, look what I blogged just before the first Web 2.0 conference:

I’m providing a workshop on Enterprise Social Software with Socialtext Customer Mike Pusateri from Disney. You might recall his great presentation at the at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Confererence in February. Mike and his team are leading the way with how they are using lightweight web-native tools as a platform for productivity. Not just how they use Socialtext for project communication, but how they stitch it together Moveable Type and Newsgator for an ecosystem of tools with RSS.

That was then, this is now. I provided a workship on Enterprise 2.0.

Tuesday we announced SuiteTwo, The Enterprise 2.0 Suite powered by Intel. Intel is distributing the Best of Breed wiki (Socialtext), blog (Six Apart), Feed Aggregation (Newsgator) and Feed Publishing (SimpleFeed), supported by Spikesource, through its channels including Dell, NEC, Ingram, Novell and Red Hat.

This fulfills Andrew McAfee’s vision of Enterprise 2.0. In a box. Made simple for Small-to-Mid-sized Enterprises. Extensible because we’ve all supported open APIs. Enterprise 2.0 is freeform social software adapted for organizations. SuiteTwo is the first offering to realize the SLATES paradigm:

SLATES = Search | Links | Authorship | Tags | Extensions | Signals

In the latest issue of the Harvard Business Review, McAfee went further to distinguish this Network IT (NIT) from Functional IT and Enterprise IT:

As the DrKW example illustrates, NIT’s principal capabilities include the following:

Facilitating collaboration. Network technologies allow employees to work together but don’t define who should work with whom or what projects employees should work on. At DrKW, ad hoc teams have formed because employees read one another’s blogs. These teams have used the wiki to accomplish tasks, and they have disbanded without orders from senior executives.

Allowing expressions of judgment. NITs are egalitarian technologies that let people express opinions. DrKW employees use blogs to voice their views about everything from open-source software to interest rate movements.

Fostering emergence. “Emergence” is the appearance of high-level patterns or information because of low-level interactions. These patterns are useful because they allow managers to compare how work is done with how it’s supposed to be done. Emergence is also valuable for users. For instance, employees can easily search and navigate DrKW’s blogs and wiki for trends and data even though nobody is in charge of making them easy to use.

…Employees exploit older NITs such as e-mail and instant messaging on their own, but business leaders have a role to play in exploiting newer technologies like blogs and wikis. They can help sustain and increase the use of complements to make the technology continually more effective, primarily by guiding users. Darren Leonard, a managing director in the global equity derivatives business at Dresdner Kleinwort, recalls how he got his colleagues to use the company’s wiki: “First, if a wiki has no structure, it’s perceived not as an opportunity but as anarchy, and our people have no time for anarchy. I went back to my initial pages and rewrote them to be a lot more directive. For example, I made a page with the agenda for an upcoming meeting and asked people to add to it. Second, wikis have to be clearly better than other ways of collaborating. There have to be uses [for them] that demonstrate their power. One of these uses came prior to a special senior management meeting where we could bring questions from our groups and get them answered. I put up a pageasking my [team members] what questions they wanted me to ask on their behalf. People used the page to post questions, edit them, and discuss which ones were the most important and why. That really accelerated wiki use. Finally, old habits are hard to break. The tendency is for people to keep using e-mail because that’s what they know….I have to [tell them], I’m not reading e-mails on this topic. Use the wiki’ or Everyone’s assignments are on this page-use the same page to report on progress.'”

Lead users and enterprises already work this way today. Only they do so without usable efficiency. Integrated single sign-on, search and tag cloud are just the beginning. One click subscription to a page, blog post, search query, report, weblog and wiki make feeds usable (unlike today’s user experience, when they click on an orange icon and think their browser is broken). Rapidly form groups, draft together on a wiki page, publish to a blog and track results.

Beyond making such tasks efficient, the benefits to productivity, discovering emergent intelligence and high-engagement marketing are significant. Very soon a user will wake up in the morning, log in to SuiteTwo, immediately recognize something emerging. With the top blog posts telling her what the company is talking about, the top wiki pages showing her what people are working on, top posts from the outside that her company is subscribed to and the feedback from what they are publishing — something will emerge. She recognizes the opportunity, pulls on the social fabric and easily forms a diverse group of experts. They follow new feeds and generates others while working with a little productive friction. They develop a plan and draft a new offering in the wiki. They publish to a public blog and track where it goes. The feedback loops continue, she goes home for the day and the organization is bound to adapt again.

This isn’t your Dad’s enterprise, but one you will be working with soon.


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Ross Mayfield is CEO and co-founder of Socialtext, an emerging provider of Enterprise Social Software that dramatically increases group productivity and develops a group memory.

He also writes Ross Mayfield’s Weblog which focuses on markets, technology and musings.