Enterprise 2.0: It's Still About Improving Business Performance - InformationWeek
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Steve Wylie
Steve Wylie
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Enterprise 2.0: It's Still About Improving Business Performance

The momentum around Enterprise 2.0 must be harnessed to solve business problems and create new opportunities.

With the recent LinkedIn IPO, talk of who might be next, and a run of notable acquisitions, including VMware's move to grab Socialcast, the spotlight has been shining brightly on the social software market. This year's Super Bowl--with half-time Chatter commercials featuring an animated and socially connected will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas--thrust the relatively young, social enterprise market into the mainstream. We have moved a long way from the simple beginnings of the Enterprise 2.0 movement just five years ago, and a maturing and rapidly changing social enterprise market is now firmly established.

Enterprise 2.0
Starting today, I'm hosting 1,600 of my closest friends at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, the semiannual gathering place and unofficial market barometer for the social enterprise. We've moved the event into a larger building, right in the heart of Boston. With great support from the companies driving the market and a fantastic agenda assembled, this week is primed to bring together the best in the business. In the days counting down to the conference, media outlets and the blogosphere lit up with predictions, pre-announcements, and news surrounding the event. The conference is a celebration of our industry's time in the spotlight and newfound legitimacy.

But while celebrating our coming of age, it's also important to focus on the challenges that lie ahead. What was true at the inception of this market five years ago is still true today: While great progress is being made in understanding the value of a socially connected, collaborating enterprise, the reality is that most enterprises are just beginning to peel back the organizational layers of operational inefficiency and outdated technology that hold them back. Their challenges will require equal parts organizational readiness, workable technology solutions, and the resilience to see these initiatives through.

It's important to acknowledge what has been accomplished in these five years: broader acceptance among business constituents, a maturing and increasingly complete tool set, and the beginning of some operational best practices. There are now numerous examples of companies finding real value from their enterprise social investments, and many pilot projects that have turned into fully sanctioned company initiatives. But the work doesn't stop there. The momentum must be harnessed as continued steps are taken to focus on solving business problems and creating new opportunities.

In preparing for the conference, I spent time speaking with large enterprise customers about their experiences with social software. John Stepper's team at Deutsche Bank is working across business functions, identifying business challenges and prescribing technology solutions to address the specific business need.

There is no blank check or company mandate to become social. The projects are driven strictly by the value they bring to the group. At healthcare technology provider Cerner, Brice Jewell is heading up a team that installed a companywide social platform built on Jive and Atlassian. Jewell is already deriving value from the platform by lowering customer support costs and improving product design, but he recognizes the need for better integration with the company's CRM and Office applications. At JP Morgan Chase, Mike Aaron Brown's team is leveraging Chase's existing investment in SharePoint and installing a parallel community platform built on Newsgator's Social Sites for SharePoint 2010. Brown's team is taking careful steps to set up the right policies and best practices up front, ensuring their legal, risk, and compliance requirements are being met with the new system.

Although these customers represent very different use cases, technologies, and approaches, all share the common goal of leveraging social software to improve performance and create real value for their organizations. And while each can site immediate gains from the new systems, they have also discovered many new challenges and opportunities along the way.

Steve Wylie is general manager and conference director for UBM TechWeb's Enterprise 2.0 conferences. He can be found on twitter @swylie650.

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Deb Donston-Miller
Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/21/2011 | 9:13:38 PM
re: Enterprise 2.0: It's Still About Improving Business Performance
I think your statement, "There is no blank check or company mandate to become social. The projects are driven strictly by the value they bring to the group," is key. Social for social's sake will not work. As with any new venture, companies need to be able to articulate why they are taking on a particular new project, what they want to accomplish and how. This may be especially true with social networking, where dedicated and active presence is a must but ROI can be fuzzy.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
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