Last week was Enterprise 2.0 in Boston (formerly the Collaborative Technologies Conference). The event was very well attended, with well over 1,000 total attendees and nearly 70 exhibitors. From the looks of both the session rooms and the demo pavilion, I think those numbers might be low.
The increased attendance demonstrates that interest in Web 2.0 and related areas such as collaboration and unified communications is strong and growing. But what I found most important about this event was that while we are on the upswing of the hype curve, we’ve also been able to demonstrate products and approaches that are offering real business value now. Notable were the two dozen or so vendors such as KnowNow, Orchestra, NewsGator, SnapXT, and others who are leveraging the power of web-based interfaces coupled with RSS aggregation to improve the ability of organizations to capture, share, and distribute information. Companies such as Mindquary, Blogtronix, Foldera, and Jive Software demonstrated web-based collaboration tools such as shared workspaces and tools that integrate features including blogs and wikis to improve the ability of the virtual workforce to communicate and collaborate. IBM and Microsoft demonstrated their approaches to delivering Web 2.0 products on an enterprise scale, attempting to merge the strengths of the open web with the reality of the need for enterprise security and control.
I enjoyed my own panels as well, including the Instant Messaging 2.0 debate where representatives of IBM, Parlano, and Reuters Messaging discussed ways to take instant messaging beyond simple chat, and instead use IM-based services as way of improving business processes, eliminate e-mail clutter, and deliver new applications for more effective enterprise management. On our Video 2.0 panel BrightCove, LifeSize, and PolyCom discussed the opportunities presented by high-definition video and telepresence, both on desktop and room-based systems, and how to overcome some of the challenges created by previous generations of video systems.
I especially liked the Launch Pad session in which four companies (KnowNow, Clarizen, Collanos, and LiquidTalk) got six (and only six) minutes to show the crowd how they were changing the face of Enterprise collaboration. Though each ran into time constraints, the session was a useful exercise for the audience to get a taste of new approaches that leverage the capabilities of the web to deliver application services.
Finally, I liked hearing about the examples of enterprises leveraging Web 2.0 for fun and profit. One key example was Motorola’s Internet 2.0 initiative, featuring over 4,000 internal blogs and wiki pages.
If you missed Enterprise 2.0, you can read recaps of many of the sessions posted by the army of bloggers in attendance (Technorati keyword: Enterprise 2.0). At next year’s event I look forward to continuing to hear more case studies of real-world implementation examples as we move further beyond the hype and into the realization of business value that Enterprise 2.0 provides.