Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business: Who Cares?!

As you may have already observed, the debate about what label to attach to the renewed focus on people in the business world has been rekindled this week, in conjunction with the Enterprise 2.0 Conference. While I will address the label question here, I do not intend to get mired in the debate. Instead, I will focus on whether or not the” people matter” movement should be described with tool talk or addressed in a more holistic fashion.

First, the label. I do not care if you call this renewed focus on people and the connections between them in the business world “Enterprise 2.0″ (E2.0), “Social Business”, or anything else. The value to be gained from connecting people within and between organizations is to be found in what’s accomplished as a result of doing so, not in what the notion is called. Sure, it is helpful for the movement to have a lingua franca with which to “sell” the vision to business leaders. However, a consensus label is not necessary. A clearly articulated, holistic approach and value proposition are required.

So forget the label. Instead, focus on the substance of what we (those who believe that people matter in business) are presenting to organizational leaders that are more concerned about traditional issues like process efficiency and financial performance.

Now, on to the real debate. In his latest blog post, Andrew McAfee continues to insist that the message needs to be tool-centric. He says that we should address executives in phrases such as,

“There are some important new (social) technologies available now, and they’ll help you address longstanding and vexing challenges you have”

The movement is not just about tools. In fact, the tool-centric focus to-date of E2.0 is a primary reason why the movement’s core message that people matter has not reached the C-suite, much less sway their thinking. To suggest to a senior executive that the only way to better their organization’s performance is through the application of technology is simply, well, simplistic. We need to discuss all of the levers that they can pull to change the way their organizations consider, enable, incent, and interact with customers, employees, and partners.

To succeed in transforming an organization, leaders must change and communicate what is valued and how people are rewarded for applying those values while attaining stated goals and objectives. We must show those leaders that modifying organizational values to include (or increase) the importance of people to the business can lead to tangible increases in revenue and decreases in operating cost. The benefits statement does not need to be presented as an ROI analysis; anecdotal evidence from efforts within the organization, or from other entities, should suffice. And, yes, technology should be presented as an enabler of both the change effort itself and the new value system guiding the organization.

And one more thing. This movement, however we choose to label and describe it, is NOT a revolution. Senior leaders fear and shun revolutions. So avoid using that word when selling the vision. We are not advocating the overthrow of existing enterprise organizational or IT systems. Instead, we seek to convincingly demonstrate that augmenting the existing ways of conducting and managing business with a complementary, people-centric approach can yield substantial benefits to those organizations who do so. Do not preach revolution; instead, suggest specific actions that leaders can take to better connect people in and outside of their organization and show them the kinds of results that doing so can produce.

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10 responses to “Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business: Who Cares?!

  1. Even if it IS a revolution, then we shouldn’t describe it as such to the incumbents … we should give them more of a chance to participate in their own redemption

  2. Pingback: Why the Enterprise 2.0 Vs Social Business Debate is Really Going On

  3. Pingback: Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara: Clarity on Collaboration Please - Intranet Blog - ThoughtFarmer

  4. Larry – great points, and one of the reasons that I did not make the journey to the E2.0 Conference in California this time. Too much focus on what to call it all, and an intensely heavy round of vendor chest-pounding along the lines of “tastes great, less filling.” That, and juggling 3 client commitments was enough to keep me out of the sun of California, and the debatable benefit of being amidst the self-isolating tribe of the tools first E2.0 crowd.

    It’s neither tools nor people that lead the issue – it’s both AT ONCE. The sooner people can realize that, the sooner they will have the internal bridges in place to get business and IT working together as a team, to have solutions that are aligned explicitly and upfront to real business needs (not just “collaborate more” or “innovate more”), and the sooner we can all get moving on having our flying cars and 100% employment (from the Jetsons and Star Trek, respectively ;).

    I find Andrew’s retreat to a tool-centric stance incredibly disturbing, personally.

    Even though I’m intensely focused on the abilities of technology to enhance our working world (and other slices), and started tracking wikis, blogs and RSS back in 2003 or so, I’ll pull a Clinton campaign slogan out here… “It’s the Business, Stupid!” (replace business with people or any other term – EXCEPT technology or any specific tool, and we’re still good).

    Cheers,
    Dan

  5. Yea, the arguing about these terms is getting a bit ridiculous. I just read a post about “Social Innovative Network”. I think many analysts are trying to coin their own phrase or something. Stick with the basics. Isn’t a private website that companies use to get work done called an “intranet”?

  6. @Tim – well, as someone who has certainly coined a fair number of terms, it is the nature of the beast to try and carve out some unique territory – and also to unify the conversation. Seems all too easy to focus on exactly the wrong thing these days however…

    BTW – on the Intranet front, great point – and exquisite timing on your part. Just wrote up some thoughts on ThoughtFarmer 4.0 today – see http://www.informationarchitected.com/blog/enterprise-2-0-web-to-desktop-and-back-again/

    Best,
    Dan

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  9. Pingback: TIBCO Launches tibbr and Demonstrates the Difference Between Social Business and Enterprise 2.0 | Together, We Can!

  10. I think Enterprise 2.0 has jumped the shark. From Google Trends to Industry Leaders including vendors, the data clearly shows the migration away from Enterprise 2.0 to Social Business. Read my full post and analysis here: http://bit.ly/ewfTBV

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