It was interesting to visit the Web 2.0 conference last week and see the progress and trends compared to my last year impressions.
Here are some of my thoughts:
- SharePoint is the de-facto standard for Enterprise 2.0 While other vendors have compelling products and features, a CIO that is looking for an internal, comprehensive, secure and maintainable solution has almost only one choice (unless you are on an IBM stack..). Other tools focus on providing point solutions, hosted environments, plugging current SharePoint holes and extending functionality. Microsoft had the biggest and most impressive presence and were heavily promoting the next version SharePoint 2010 that will be launched in the SharePoint conference in October. (Some preliminary details here).
- The field has definitely matured over the last year. There are more case studies and research about usage, benefits and trends although most companies are not sharing explicit ROI numbers. Some vendors have disappeared while others are growing and establishing themselves at a level where they may be considered long term players and safe for the enterprise.
- The experts are still frustrated with the slow rate of adoption and the seeming growing gap between the prevalence of social tools and technologies used by marketing and sales to communicate externally Vs. they almost complete absence internally. The rapid adoption of tools like Facebook and Twitter for customer communication not just in retail but in Healthcare and other industries creates glaring discrepancies where the same companies have no tools internally and sometimes even block their own marketing teams from external use of these tools under some outdated IT policy.
IT is still not part of the discussion. That is unfortunate because as Steve Wylie, the conference director expressed in a guest post at ZDNET last week, large scale adoptions will not happen without IT.
“While we could argue that this is a very new market and that businesses take time to change, I also believe that Enterprise 2.0 will be challenged by large-scale adoption until corporate IT is fully on board. Early adoption has been largely driven by business users and department-level managers. They had a problem to solve and were fed up waiting for IT to provide the solutions they needed. They took matters into their own hands by finding workable, web-based solutions and even celebrated this new found freedom from IT. With a few exceptions, IT took a reactive posture to Enterprise 2.0 and viewed it as a threat to be managed, secured and even blocked in some cases.”
- Tactical view. One of the most frequently asked questions was “what is the best way to get started?”. The pretty universal answer for vendors and corporate users was to approach it in a tactical manner and find a specific business problem you can solve using collaboration tools. Be it an HR portal to boost morale, tools to help virtual project teams work more efficiently, sales best practices portal or any of many other ideas. Define a narrow business case and implement. So far, trying to approach this in a strategic manner makes finding ROI a herculean task and as noted above, puts IT on the defensive. I hope that this trend will start to change as these tactical solutions rarely provide long term sustainable benefits.
- Rise of the Community Manager. The most active forum was the one where the newly created function – community managers shared their challenges and tricks for getting people to take part in the social activity. First, It is great to see that many leading organizations have realized the importance of such a task although many had it as a secondary responsibility they volunteered to do rather than a full time position. Creating and maintaining a vibrant and active internal community requires skill, passion and process and the focus should rightfully be as much on that as on the tools that enable the community.