Sometimes, you just have to close your eyes, trust your gut, and leap.
Gordon, Warren, and I did just that when we quit our day jobs to form infovark. We saw an opportunity to bring Web 2.0 technologies and tools, but more importantly, Web 2.0 culture, into the modern business enterprise. We’ll do that by making tools that knowledge workers love. Tools that will help them get their work done. Tools that will make them more productive.
We’ve targeted enterprises, because they’ve been the holdouts in adopting Web 2.0. Individuals have flocked to these applications, but organizations are slow to change. Some companies are actively resisting the new wave. It’s not all their fault, however. Many enterprise software vendors have themselves been slow to adapt.
But to invert a phrase, a lack of speed kills. Or to put it another way, incrementalism is the slowest way to fail.
The companies that embrace the democratizing influence of Web 2.0 will be able to adapt faster than those that don’t. They will be more responsive. Web 2.0 is about the two-way flow of information: what Tim-Berners Lee called the read/write web. Consumers can provide direct feedback to companies, rather than being passive recipients of advertising. Employees can be active contributors to learning organizations, rather than browsers of stale corporate knowledge bases. The companies that understand this will have a competitive advantage over those that do not. They will evolve, while the organizations or industries that don’t will become extinct.
Extinction doesn’t happen all at once, though, which is the reason for the title of this post. It will happen so slowly that most folks won’t even notice it happening until it’s too late. Business as usual is comfortable. An aversion to risk seems a prudent and responsible approach. But it will ultimately fail, because the competitive environment changes. At time of great technological or social upheaval, it changes rapidly.
Advocates of Enterprise 2.0 tend to be passionate about it, because they can see the upheaval coming. You can sense the messianic tone in John Newton’s recent Manifesto for Social Computing in the Enterprise, or Bex Huff’s take on business evolution. The prophets of Enterprise 2.0 have been preaching for some time: The Cluetrain Manifesto was published almost eight years ago.
We’re passionate about it, too. We want to help knowledge workers and their enterprises succeed. And to succeed, we’ll all have to change.
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