Enterprise 2.0 (finally) moves toward Enterprise

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An interesting and  salutary move is being iniated in the small world of both web and enterprise 2.0. It’s about what I would call a “de-technologization” of the concept and, according to me, will take back enterprise 2.0 to a ground it should not have left : the enterprise as a productive organization that must deal with internal rules and constraints.

It slightly appeared in my old definition of enterprise 2.0 in 2007 and, particularly in my predictions for 2009. Now it seems that the time is coming. It’s the beginning of a major turn from the vision that considered that making web 2.0 tools used within companies was a goal by itself to the vision according to which they are only parts of a system.

This is confirmed by two posts I read these last days.

In this post, eminent Robert Scobble is realizing that,  even if many brilliant people comment and analyze the tech side of web 2.0, they still miss the business side of things. According to me, the reality of business and its context are seldom taken into acocunt. If the goals and the needs are clear, a deep analysis of the context which is the only way to explain how to make things work for current businesses is still lacking. This was for the web 2.0 side.

On the enterprise 2.0 side, I noticed this post from Martin Koser about the the next Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Frankfurt, which brings many sensible things forward.

For the “trusted” circle of experts feedback we can say that the biggest topic of the behind the scenes discussions was the dichotomy between orderly processes (read BPM) and the fuzzy world of Social Software (read Enterprise 2.0), how to deal with it, and basically how to tackle the topic at the conference. So while we all shared understanding a nice thread evolved that covered things like:

  • How do we prevent that social software works out to be just another “silo” (”build a wiki, and they will come”)?
  • How can we integrate social software into existing domains, usage arenas and task specific systems?
  • What are the best ways to start with social software in the enterprise?
  • How do we ensure that social software implementations turn out to be “complementary and integrative”? Is it a good idea to marry up SNS functionality with BPM software

That’s what I call a well-timed “back to basics”.

• Its Business Process Management : that’s the way things are done and thinking, even a second, that any company will once get rid of it is a nonsense. It’s the traditional side of its activity.

• Its “Adhoc Process Capability” : its capability to get organized in adhoc and temporary structures, in order to face a given situation. Employees driven processes in order to bring all the needed expertise and skills where a need that BPM wasn’t able to prevent appears. A kind of service oriented organization. That is not a new issue but “things 2.0” allow to deal with it more effectively. But it’s still a “need – plan – execution” thing.

• Its “serendipity Capability” which is the most “2.0” part of the question : a better use of employee’s skills in order to do “great and unexpected things” while putting a  new engagement model at work, a new community-ship. It’s at the same time a great plus and sometimes that must not make us forget the two previous points which are about 95% of the corporate activity.

If any technology has to globally support the way a business works, it has to be able to address these three needs. If not, bridges will have to be built. But remember it won’t exempt from having a deep reflection about the way people work, about how things are done.

So it’s easy to understand that excelling  in understanding and delivering technology is only a part of the question. The rest takes us to plunge into processes and management practices. This makes me say that the missing link is the integration of practices 2.0, then tools, with what’s currently existing. It forces us to analyze and understand what’s the current reality, to get ours hands dirty with 1.0 things and diagnose what is necessary, what can be done, and how. And, in no way, setting ambitious goals no one understands.

In short, things will start with BPM, at least if a global implementation is targeted : a small motivated team being able to change its practices on its own, on the flow.

• Must tools 2.0 integrate BPM ?  According to me…yes…to a certain extent. They have to remain flexible enough to be able to address the non-BPM issues and make the famous “freeform collaboration” possible. Links and bridges are needed with BPM tools without making them to intrusive.

• Will it be enough ? Of course not. A big part of the work that has to be done will not be about technical integration but about human integration. Enterprises will have to translate parts of their processes into practices and teach their employees how to make them theirs on new environments. A good way not to forget the current situation when trying to design the future.

It seems that enterprise 2.0 is back on the very nature of enterprise : getting organizaed to produce more efficiently. Good news.