Dion Hinchcliffe has a really important post about the impending maturity of the Enterprise 2.0 market, in the wake of Forrester’s prediction that the Enterprise 2.0 space will be a $4.6 billion industry within 5 years.
He contends that a hallmark of the new enterprise solutions is that they are emergent — that they aren’t handed down from on high through the traditional IT/management channels — that instead they are introduced by people in an effort to solve their problems.
“In other words, we seem to be coming from a push-based era of command-and-control management and are heading into an era where more and more work is being conducted using a decentralized pull-based model that’s more scalable, efficient, and leads to increasingly innovative outcomes.”
We’ve spoken about this at length before, because we see emergence as a crucial property for any system that’s going to be able to deal with the kinds of unpredictable situations that occur for modern knowledge workers.
Dennis Howlett, also over at ZDNet calls Forrester out on their Enterprise 2.0 definition:
A set of technologies and applications that enable efficient interaction among people, content, and data in support of collectively fostering new businesses, technology offerings, and social structures.
Forrester’s definition is indeed pretty vague. But then, no analyst is ever going to be precise. (Vagueness means never having to admit you were wrong.)
Dennis also suggests that Forrester have missed a key part of the problem. Forrester expects the major vendors to roll up all of these new “2.0″ features into their collaboration offerings. By doing so, Dennis feels that Forrester greatly inflates the size of the E2.0 market. He’s right; the true E2.0 market is much smaller, and the big enterprise vendors just don’t understand it.
The major vendors sell to CIOs and IT departments through traditional channels. They aim at the top of the corporate pyramid. Their systems enforce repeatable processes and follow established metrics. Their value is derived from imposing order on chaos.
Emergent systems, on the other hand, thrive on chaos. They address the “Barely Repeatable Processes” that happen within organizations. Emergent systems are decentralized, self-organizing and organic — the antithesis of the top-down, rules-based engineering approach taken by most enterprise software. To build an emergent system — an ecosystem — you target the bottom of the pyramid, building it up one user, one connected node, at a time. The value of an emergent system is derived from its flexibility, adaptability, and responsiveness.
Emergence isn’t another feature to add to the enterprise technology stack. Emergence isn’t a feature at all — it’s an approach to solving a problem .