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Wolfe's Den: Top 5 Enterprise 2.0 Roadblocks

Our columnist identifies the challenges which could derail social enterprise tools, as Cisco and IBM battle to turn businesses into Facebook-like collaboration environments. With counterpoint from JP Rangaswami, Murali Sitaram, and Ted Schadler.
E2.0 Could Cause CIOs To Lose Their Biz Cred. Maybe I'm being a worry wart here, but bear with me. Over the past 20 years, chief information officers have successfully made the argument that what they preside over isn't just a cost center -- it offers an important value-add to the business. So the obvious danger here is, if E2.0 tools don't pan out in terms of delivering real business value, CIOs will once again be seen as evangelizing technology for technology's sake. And their boardroom advances will vanish faster than whatever it was you tweeted two minutes ago.

My panelists' advice:

Schadler: "When you're implementing, as an IT professional, you have to do the math between what the business value is and what the IT side of it is, and there's a little give and get that you have to do there. And the way to say that is, build 80% and then stop and listen again."

Sitaram: "Much as we want this to be viral and social, there's got to be an element of the management of the company pushing some of these dimensions."

A Proliferation Of Best-Of-Breed Products Will Result In E2.0 Sprawl. OK, here I'm just being cranky. All new software markets eventually evolve from a thousand point products to a few winners. So maybe what worries me is that I'm not so sure that the Facebook paradigm -- which everyone has more of less signed onto -- is the best look-and-feel for an enterprise collaboration environment. I keep coming back to search, search, search. Helping me find documents and information is more of a win than being able to see what meeting Joe and Sally are in. Here's an heretical thought: maybe at the end of the day, the winner won't be an enterprise Facebook clone?

Here are my panelists on what they see evolving:

Schadler: "The data is very clear on this. People are trying to replicate the best of the web, and harness that internally. Because otherwise people will just use the Web, and that's scary if you're a CIO. In a regulated industry, that's criminal. On the other hand, CIOs are smart. They've been through this before. They don't want to have pockets of investment -- they want platforms. We're seeing platforms start to rise."

Sitaram: "Our view is that the platform will win out in the end. I don't think we can define today what you're going to have to plug into this platform five years from now. But if you let that mish-mash grow, our customers our going to be in a difficult situation."

Rangaswami solicited the biggest response from the audience with his comment: "I don't think the mish-mash can grow. It took IBM 40 years to become evil. It took Microsoft 20. It took Google 10. It took Facebook five. It took Twitter two and a half. What is actually happening is that the tolerance level of the individual, in accepting behaviors that are monolithic or siloed, has sharply declined. . .I expect to see that anyone who says one size fits all in an enterprise will fail."

What's your take? Let me know, by leaving a comment below or e-mailing me directly at [email protected].

Follow me on Twitter: (@awolfe58)

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Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of InformationWeek.com.