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Enterprise 2.0 101: An Executive Guide to Enterprise 2.0

Enterprise 2.0 101: An Executive Guide to Enterprise 2.0

Enterprise 2.0 has the potential to provide knowledge and content management in a surprisingly cheap and easy fashion using Web-based tools. Learn what it's about, what distinguishes it from consumer Web 2.0 technologies and why you should pay attention.

No doubt, you view “Enterprise 2.0” as yet another buzzword invented by vendors who are vying for your attention. However, once you peel back the layers and look past the Enterprise 2.0 hype, you will discover that it's a useful and reasonable set of technologies for business.

As the sheer amount of enterprise content grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to track and share. It's not a new problem, but the avalanche of information your employees have to process raises the necessity to deal with the issue.

Enterprise 2.0 tools make it easier to share and organise information. Tagging and rating provide a straightforward way to find content and make judgments about what to look at. Blogs and wikis are natural collaboration and communication platforms. Social network tools help staff find the right individual or group of people. Enterprise 2.0 has the potential to provide knowledge and content management in a surprisingly cheap and easy fashion using Web-based tools.

In this introduction to the subject, we explain what Enterprise 2.0 is, how it can help your organisation and the technology's limitations.

What is Enterprise 2.0?

Enterprise 2.0 refers to the concept of moving Web 2.0 tools and technologies (seeWeb 2.0 101 An Executive Guide to Web 2.0) into the enterprise to help your employees, partners, suppliers and customers work together to build networks of like-minded people and share information. Harvard Business School professor Andrew McAfee is credited with coining the “Enterprise 2.0” term when he saw the potential to apply to business the concepts of Web 2.0 tools, which until recently have been used primarily by teens and university students to build social networks.

Enterprise 2.0 takes the original concept of the Web, using Web sites to feed content to visitors, and turns it upside down. Instead of a one-way conversation-your company talking to the site visitor-Enterprise 2.0 lets you implement a multiparty conversation to share information and manage knowledge inside and outside the organisation using blogs and wikis, social networking and tagging, rating systems and the like. The link among these tools is the ability of the individuals involved to participate and to control the process while they work together, share information and create networks of people with similar interests.

Tools to enable these functions have existed for a long time. The trouble is that few people used them, despite large amounts of resources expended to deploy these systems. What changed is the simplicity of the tools. If they're simpler, they're more likely to be used, an important component for knowledge management. (That is, nobody had an incentive to share information, particularly when doing so was a pain.)

This gives new hope to the idea of managing knowledge and sharing information, a goal that goes back to the 1990s when vendors began developing knowledge management and content management solutions. Instead of trying to implement huge, all-encompassing enterprisewide systems, the simpler Web-based tools under the Enterprise 2.0 umbrella strip away the complexity of the '90s technologies while carrying on the spirit of the ideas.

The fact is, Enterprise 2.0 concepts are gaining credibility, and it's not just startups that are paying attention to this space. More than 800 people attended the recent Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, which included speakers from IBM, Microsoft and Cisco, and a host of other smaller players. IBM introduced the Web 2.0 Goes to Work package for the WebSphere Portal, while Microsoft promoted Sharepoint, a natural collaboration environment, as a way to implement Enterprise 2.0 ideas along with Office and other Microsoft technologies.

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