Enterprise 2.0 and SMB. Lets talk about it !

If we refer to the way the isue is often treated, enterprise 2.0 is mainly a large enterprise concern. Does it mean it would be useless for SMBs ? There are very few discussions about that and I took some time to thinks about that.

Here are my first and inevitably incomplete thought. Feel free to add to them.

Enterprise 2.0 is a large businesses concern by nature

I’d even say that enterprise 2.0 was born in large businesses. When we talk about facilitating cross-funtionnal activties across silos, making scattered teams interact more easily, making self coordination and faciliation easier without wasting time and ressources, harnessin expertises and knowledge, it’s easy to understand which kind of patient we face just by looking at the treatment.

More, like many emerging issues, it first drawn the attention of experts and service suppliers who had the possibility to mobilize energy and ressources on a badly defined issue, to invest in future and explore without knowing what it will bring. And we are forced to recognize that prospective is more a large business concerne, one of the reason being the available resources and an inertia that force them to anticipate their moves very, very early.

In short, large businesses are, by nature, the place where this kind of issue emerges and cristalllize, as well it’s, economicially speaking, the only structure that has both the resources and the need to think about a far future.

Are SMBs left out of the debate ?

Some of the reasons given above partly explain that. But other fators have also to be taken into account. The diversity and complexity we encounter within a large organization make it a perfect experimentation field. Morever, large companies like that and adopted pilots and experimentations as a natural way to discover new things. They can afford trying things on small perimeters without puting itself at risk (evenu if the question of the perimeter may become a weakness when a critical mass is needed). SMBs can’t experiment because they often don’t have enough human and financial resources at because its size doesn’t make it possible. The size of a pilot group in a large company is often bigger than many medium businesses size.

Also notice that SMBS used to take advantage from this situation as they let larger ones have all the initial problems and fund a large part of the initla R&D, waiting for things to be more mature to try to catch them at an affordable price.

Whatever, if SMBs are maybe to weak to “push” in the starting stage, the time comes when the offers become more affordable and when they have enough feedbacks not to grope their way along.

SMB can find many benefits in enterprise 2.0 too

That’s not because the enterprise 2.0 issue is perfectly designed for large businesses that smaller businesses have no benefits to expect from that. What is peculiar to SMBs is that they are more focuses on their current business than in the future what explains they are often cautious with all the new things large businesses experiment (and often give up). That’s also the reason why they have much to win by taking the most of limited teams in a context of investment scarcity and makes in order to the time that is spent to grope, adjust, coordinate to meet their business needs would be used to act. Making interactions easier and harnessing knowledge is an issue that doesn’t depend on the company’s size.

Of course SMBs will draw the same benefits as large businesses. I’d even say they would be more important in some cases  : the less people you have at your disposal, the smaller the sum of all individual productivity pools is important, the more the need for collective pools is essential.

Another point, not directly connected, must also be taken into account. If cloud computing is not necessarily the exclusivity of enterprise 2.0, they often come together. Contrary to large businesses who can have justified constraints and where things slowly progress, investing in expensive IT resources is not their calling. The existence of an IT department in many businesses of this kind is more often an unavoidable burden than a real choice and many SMB owners would like to stop spending so much money in infrastructure.

I would even suggest that, if there are benefits large businesses already understood, some of them will appear quickly or would be more important for SMBs.

One concept but different executions ?

Some things may be different for SMBs.

• Perimeter : social networks and commuties will play a different role. Large businesses often focus on internal groups to work or external groups to communicate but seldom mixed ones, gathering suppliers, clients, partners in dedicated zones. SMBs have few resources hand we know how time consuming are the many meetings they must attend in the only purpose of knowing what’s happening. SMBs have a lot to win in maximizing exchanges in groups involving all stakeholders (client/supplier, salesperson, project leader, suppor) in order to minimize the waste due to coordindation and information forwarding. Meetings must be used to decide, to go forward, not to check project statuses : there are other ways to get a comprehensive vision of situation. The less resources you have, the more important it gets to really involve your ecosystem and build synergies by and increased integration.

• IT infrastructure : already mentioned above but this point is resources and cost critical.

• HR : I was recently talking with a famous Business School professor who was telling me that it was a pity that students didn’t pay attention to SMBs except, sometimes, promising startups, although there were many human and businness passionating challenges. Sudies say that using modern tools may help to attract Y gens….

Anything else ?

bénéfices, cloud computing, Entreprise 2.0, PME, réseaux-sociaux

Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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