Jim McGee posted a list of essential Enterprise 2.0 articles to the FastForward blog. I’ve read many of them before but found a few items worth looking at again, as well as a few gems I’d missed. I’ve bookmarked it for future reference.
I’d also like to add a few other articles to the list. The first two have to do with managing collections of information. Information is the raw material knowledge workers process into insights, analysis, and innovation. In today’s environment, when there’s more information available than ever before, it’s worth spending some time thinking about how we collect and manage all that data.
The last link has to do with social networks and is perhaps more relevant today, post-Facebook, than at the time it was authored in 2003.
I’m sure I’ll think of more, but these are the most obvious and most readily available articles missing from Jim’s list. Happy reading!
The blogosphere exploded over the weekend with an exciting conversation about enterprise software.
Some of us who actually do this for a living took that to heart. Michael Krigsman attempted to explain the innate differences between enterprise and consumer software, only to be rebuked by Nick Carr:
“By perpetuating a false dichotomy between the friendliness of consumer apps and the seriousness of business apps, all that Krigsman is doing is giving enterprise vendors cover for continuing to produce software that’s difficult and unpleasant to use.”
But my favorite post so far came from SocialText’s Ross Mayfield:
“Enterprise software can do better. In fact it has to, because of broader competition. At least with basic usability. … Step out of the feature matrix. Also recognize that control instincts lead to unusable crap that is a barrier to collaboration. And every enterprise software app is a collaboration app, otherwise it’s infrastructure”
We all know a lot of enterprise software is horrible to use. It’s complicated, frequently counter-intuitive, and often requires extensive training.
Most people who use it daily don’t like it. They certainly don’t love it. Compare and contrast the following Google Searches:
Design it for People to use.
Enterprise Software is currently not designed for people to use — it’s designed to be bought by someone in senior management.
(Which is always good for the software vendors, but not always good for the enterprise, and rarely good for the people who happen to work there.)
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.
…It’s how many friends you have. Any self respecting Facebook user knows that, right?
And what’s better than collecting loads of friends? Collecting loads of social networks, that’s what.
In the wake of the Microsoft/Facebook story comes Google OpenSocial (launching this week) – a unified accessible interface to a whole collection of information from Orkut, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Ning, Hi5, Plaxo, Friendster, Viadeo and Oracle. (Details from TechCrunch)
It’s going to be interesting to see exactly what can be done with this tool – assuming that the host networks will have the final say as to what can and what can’t be built on their platform. More than 7000 Facebook applications have been built since Facebook opened it’s API. (Most of those applications are really silly.)
The fact that at least two of the OpenSocial host networks (SalesForce and LinkedIn) are veritable goldmines of enterprise worthy information should be of note to anyone working on Enterprise 2.0 solutions. (like um.. us!)
And in the middle of it all, Google controls all the data and the network (in a non-evil way, of course…)
This “Everyone Else vs Facebook” approach reminds me a bit of Microsoft’s catchup play for developers in the early 90’s with .NET – “It’s every other language vs Java”.
That one didn’t work out exactly as Microsoft had planned, but it wasn’t exactly a failure – .NET and Java are both alive and well. I suspect something similar will happen here. Assuming that OpenSocial has legs, it seems safe to assume that developers would much rather target multiple platforms than one.
Does this mean they are going to have to standardize (or at least consolidate) identity across multiple hosts? Now that would be really something…