It’s that time again when I feel compelled not only to wrap up highlights of the Enterprise 2.0 conference, but to divulge my thinking on where we are in the progression of widespread 2.0 adoption — in our personal lives and at work.
It’s hard to top my impassioned first post on this topic from last year: A Year’s Summary of Personal Reflection. Not only was I drinking the Kool-aid, I was mixing the powder and stirring the pitcher. Where last year I was overwhelmed with the newfound freedom that comes with social networking and collaboration, this year I’m focused more on the practical application of how these tools can drive productivity gains and measurable improvements in business performance.
This year’s Enterprise 2.0 conference highlighted several themes I’ve seen over the past year. 1. frustration, 2. abundance of choice, 3. breaking out of the echo chamber, and 4. dividends. Here we go:
The frustration story comes from two directions ending in the same place. Atop one mountain, we have so-called “evangelists” (like me) who are frustrated with the slow pace of adoption in the ROW (the Rest-of-World who is not gung-ho for e2.0). The adjacent mountain has a crowd of interested observers that can’t see the landscape clearly, are somewhat intimidated by the pace of change, and question the utility behind the hype. In the middle is a canyon of confusion. During the latter half of 2008 and by next year’s conference, we should see this gap closing. As more case studies emerge, and more business cases get approved, the evangelists will no longer seem so freakish, and the potential buyers of e2.0 technologies will have settled into a sensible course of action to web-enable their workforce.
Rejoice in Choice
I caught up with Ismael Ghalimi recently who said he is tracking nearly 800 products in the Office 2.0 database. Agile development methods and low-cost cloud computing alternatives are turbocharging startup activity, breaking down time/cost barriers to product development and release. With the welcome addition of major enterprise vendors introducing 2.0 features and product suites, the choices are ever-abundant to start experimenting with these tools at relatively low and sometimes no cost. I was amazed at number of players I had never heard of at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference… and even more amazed at what they could demo. Standouts for me included Newsgator’s Social Sites, Trampoline Systems, Groupswim, Igloo, and Socialcast. The barriers to adoption may be steep, but the barrier to entry in this category is below sea level. Take some of these products for a spin.
The Echo (Prison) Chamber
Whether it’s Twitter, Friendfeed, Plaxo Pulse, blog posts, or the ever-languishing Facebook… the 1% continues to talk to itself and hone the global agenda for Enterprise 2.0. The goal this year is to do the hardcore missionary work and break out of the echo chamber. If you fancy yourself an e2.0 expert, start investigating industry trade shows (like retail, entertainment, banking, hospitality) where you can illuminate the non-converted. The blogosphere has spawned web celebs in various circles and enterprise 2.0 is no different. It’s important to remember that everyone tracking this space or participating in it is dwarfed by the number of people who don’t even know it exists.
I may be taking a more sober, Realpolitik approach to 2.0 evangelism, but I’m still a die-hard believer. Through the pages of this blog, you can see how my life has irrevocably changed since I started tracking this sector. The reason my life changed so dramatically is due entirely to the rich, personal relationships I’ve formed over the course of a few years. I challenge everyone reading this blog to calculate the economic value of their own social network. Contacts and rolladex’s have been driving business for decades, but the deep, penetrating personal understanding we have for each other is unparalleled in modern history. In other words, relationships scale. With each new Twitter follower, with each new blog reader, I compound the likelihood I will achieve some personal or business benefit from simply connecting to a stranger. The 2.0 web begins and ends with people. Imagine the possibilities when everyone in the world is socially connected. That day is coming. I can only imagine it will yield a greater humanity.