Enterprise 2.0


Enterprise 2.0 is the term for the technologies and business practices that liberate the workforce from the constraints of legacy communication and productivity tools like email. It provides business managers with access to the right information at the right time through a web of inter-connected applications, services and devices. Enterprise 2.0 makes accessible the collective intelligence of many, translating to a huge competitive advantage in the form of increased innovation, productivity and agility.”

Enterprise 2.0 is defined as a system of web-based technologies that provide for collaboration, information sharing and integration capabilities in an enterprise. The phrase also refers to the use of “emergent social software platforms within companies and their partners or customers”.

McAfee (2006) (see his blog) has used “social software” to describe how “people meet, connect and collaborate through computer mediated communication and form online communities”. As such, platforms are defined as “[emergent] digital environments in which contributions and interactions are widely visible and persistent over time.” Emergent means the software is free to use, egalitarian and will incorporate different forms of data.

However, it is important to note that Enterprise 2.0 rules out:

  1. open web-based platforms, such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Flickr and MySpace, because they widely available to individuals;
  2. corporate internets because they are not emergent; and
  3. traditional e-mail and SMS because they aren’t persistent.

Strategies to implement 2.0

Some evidence points to Enterprise 2.0 as the most likely future of organizations – which is not to say that communication and collaboration will be entirely virtual. Much interpersonal communication will still be face-to-face as Pew researchers have shown (Madden and Jones, 2008). However, innovators have pointed to “tipping points” (or networking effects) as a cause of increased participation. We believe that the effects of social computing will be a direct result of information on blogs, discussion forums, wikis and the like and not knowledge management and employee opinion techniques.

More organizations and HR teams should be willing to experiment with web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0. These are not “either-or” solutions. In an unknowable digital world, organizations should be experimenting with media according to the contingencies of their operations. This should should be embraced because experimentation provides a basis for dynamism and the ability to integrate, build, and reconfigure internal and external competencies to address rapidly-changing environments.

There is a need for organizations to develop web 2.0 policies. Whether they are simple — as in the case of Microsoft (“don’t write anything on blogs that would get you into trouble”) — or more formal is an important issue. Let’s examine advice from organizations that are more advanced in their use of social media.

UK Government Guidelines

  1. Develop a strategic, evidence-based approach, integrating existing activities and communications strategies.
  2. Educate managers by raising awareness of what Web 2.0 technologies are available, the opportunities they offer and the risks they raise.
  3. Develop a code of conduct and toolkit for the use of Web 2.0, proving a clear steer to employees and managers on the use of social media for work and personal use.
  4. Learn to listen by adopting focused and sustained efforts to understand, map and track the use of relevant Web 2.0
  5. Set out a business case for using Web 2.0 technologies, including a phased implementation of access to social media tools.
  6. Avoid replication by engaging with existing technologies before developing in-house ones.
  7. Regularly evaluate the use and effectiveness of Web 2.0 technologies in the organization.
  8. http://coi.gov.uk/documents/Engaging_through_social_media.pdf

IBM Social Media guidelines

  1. Know and follow IBM’s Business Conduct Guidelines
  2. IBMers are personally responsible for content published on blogs, wikis or other media. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time – protect your privacy
  3. Identify yourself – name and, when relevant, role at IBM; write in the first person; make it clear you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM
  4. If you publish content outside of IBM and it is about work you do or IBM, use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”
  5. Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure
  6. Don’t provide confidential or proprietary information. Ask permission to publish or report conversations meant to be private or internal
  7. Don’t cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval. When you do make a reference, link back to the source
  8. Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity or any conduct that would not be acceptable in IBM’s workplace. Show consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be objectionable or inflammatory – such as politics and religion
  9. Find out who else is blogging or publishing on the topic, and cite them
  10. Be aware of your association with IBM in online social networks. If you identify yourself as an IBMer, ensure your profile and related content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself with colleagues and clients
  11. Don’t pick fights, be the first to correct your mistakes, and don’t alter previous posts without indicating you have done so
  12. Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective. IBM’s brand is best represented by its people and what you publish may reflect on IBM’s brand (http://www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html).

Reflecting on the advice from both of these sources will assist organizations to innovate using the latest social media tools.

In the UK, British Telecom is one of the country’s strongest proponents of enterprise 2.0. It has introduced a range of social media including a Wikipedia-style database called BTpedia, blogging and podcasting tools, project collaboration software and enterprise social networking. Called “business tools”, according to BT’s head of knowledge management strategy Richard Dennison, because employees work more flexibly and efficiently.

Enterprise 2.0 has a reputation among business leaders as a time-wasting trend. However, not Dennison who says “We think that personal information is still business information. We think mixing the two provides context for you as an individual, it allows people to connect and it allows people to develop deeper personal relationships. Without it we’re all one-dimensional suit”. “We’re trying to get away from that attitude that you have to be a different person at work.”


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