What Is Enterprise 2.0?

How Does "Web 2.0" Apply to the Enterpise?

The June, 2007, Enterprise 2.0 conference naturally raised its own question: "What is the next generation of the enterprise, its 2.0? The short answer is this: Apply the thinking and technologies of Web 2.0 to the distributed, networked enterprise. Which leads to this question, what is Web 2.0 in the context of organizations?

The essence of Web 2.0 is user-generated content, as Jessica Lipnack points out in her blog.

Web 1.0 was the first generation, born with the invention of the link. The idea of linking one Internet location to another with an address, a click, a universal resource locator, URL, unleashed an explosion. Literally. More than a billion people have come online. NetAge, our site, was one of the first on the web in 1995. We stocked our site with information about networks and virtual teams, much of it still here today. By the beginning of the 21st century, big publishers of content came to dominate the web.

But then something different happened. Interactive new technologies, now called Web 2.0, put tools in the hands of anyone, allowing them to post their own content. Which in turn creates a positive feedback loop whereby users attract more users who post and cross-post ande soon we have Wikipedia, Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, social networking sites of all stripes, RSS, and countless -- we just heard the figure 50 million -- blogs. However, for the enterprise, social networking alone is not the key.

The essence of Enterprise 2.0 is people generating content in the context of their jobs based on their positions in organizations and their roles in teams.

People are authors of content in the context of social applications, and social networks naturally cohere through the ties between people. In a work context, however, communications and content are simultaneously authored by people and positions. Follow the connections between people to discover the social network. Follow the connections between positions to discover the organization network that persists and evolves even as a changing cast of people flow through the jobs.

Of all the Web 2.0 technologies,the wiki is the most relevant to large-scale organizations. Wikis make it possible to conduct large-scale conversations across boundaries of many kinds, while at the same time providing the semi-private spaces so necessary for teams. As teams go online, and do their work through digital media, the single most important enterprise facility is the knowledge management system and its ability to be configured into effective team workplaces. Where 1.0 intranets and KM were driven top-down, with content approved, the shift now is to bottom-up, where a user-in-a-position generates content directly. Wikis support not only the common creation of content in context, but also the innovation and flexibility needed by individuals and teams to set up structures and processes that reflect the unique complexities of their work.

In Enterprise 2.0, people generate content related to their jobs that remains regardless of where they go. This kind of institutional memory is sorely lacking in our organizations. Meanwhile, personal content lives on people's personal pages for plugging into social networking technologies that may span many jobs across multiple organizations.