The theory behind Enterprise 2.0 — defined today at Interop as denoting the use of emergent social-software platforms within companies, between companies and their customers, or between companies and their partners — is compelling.
The idea is that blogs, wikis, and other bottom-up collaborative online software will provide a technological foundation for a low-cost, high-efficiency, high-productivity enterprise business environment.
However, enterprises like revenue and profitability better than they like theory, which is redolent of academics and other free thinkers unencumbered by the unremitting pressure to produce tangible business results on a quarterly basis.
The largely unstructured nature of existing Enterprise 2.0 collaborative models flies in the face of the structured, process-driven dictates of today’s business enterprise. While many employees no doubt would embrace the free-flowing, lower-level interactions that are the hallmark of so-called Enterprise 2.0 offerings from companies such as Socialtext, one need bear in mind that lower-level employees typically don’t have the mandate to select and approve enterprise-software procurement. Those buying decisions rest within the eminently structured corporate hierarchy, in the hands of the executive class.
If Enterprise 2.0 is to make meaningful headway in the enterprise, it must first provide incontrovertible proof to executives that the shift to conferring more collaborative autonomy to the enterprise masses will result in measurable cost savings and increased productivity.
Otherwise, theory won’t matter.