Enterprise 2.0 is Not an Application

229016531_c661cbdc0f_o Integration is Enterprise 2.0.

This week my friend and colleague Dion Hinchcliffe posted an article on ZD Net describing 14 Reasons Why Enterprise 2.0 Projects Fail. In it he paints a picture of valiant workers surreptitiously cyber-skulking on dank distributed web sites, efficiently working and making money for their companies – all the while keeping an eye out for dagger-wielding IT staff looking to keep their security models and networks digitally pure.

He’s right, this absolutely happens. I’ve seen it in small companies, government agencies, and Fortune 10 behemoths. It is beautiful.

These localized projects are the seeds of true Enterprise 2.0.

Dion’s list of 14 reasons is long, so I’ll let him tell that story (read his post). Here however, we can discuss how those "failures" might fail outright or undervalue success, but our collective definition of success may need some rethinking.

Several of Dion’s 14 (2, 3, 8, 10, 13 and 14) revolve around building Enterprise 2.0 environments that people will use and in the provision of a corporate culture in which they can be used. Another group (4, 5, 6, 7 and 11) call for a coordinated social management plan. Political buy-in is covered in 9 and 12.

Dion’s #1 reason is that solutions can end up being departmental successes, yet not work their way into the rest of the organization.

I believe in the loosely coupled aesthetic.

Those departmental successes that don’t spread to the organization (Dion’s #1 type of failure) may be the real definition of Enterprise 2.0 success.

Corporate Social Management Plans should lay out flexible and forgiving models where workers can select any application they want, and IT should provide simple APIs to connect to any relevant central data hubs. Corporate cultures should back up these plans by rewarding the active seeking out and usage of tools to solve specific problems. Workers should be empowered to use the best tool for the job at the time.

Dion is absolutely correct, Enterprise 2.0 should be about flexibility and solving problems and not about the pervasive use of specific apps across an organization.  Why? Because there is a tipping point between what is a popular application and what becomes an institutionalized application. Once we hit that tipping point, it’s no longer Enterprise 2.0.

To sum up

Enterprise 2.0 should be a structure that allows great flexibility in the choice and use of applications throughout an organization, supporting the applications with APIs to allow data to be taken from and deposited into central data stores.


Enterprise 2.0 currently “fails” because we are attempting 1.0 deployments of 2.0 applications.

Photo by Certified Su