The Enterprise 2.0 mishmash of muddle

Over the next year we'll see the hype around Enterprise 2.0 reach a fever pitch, and many will be lost in disillusionment when most of the panning fails to yield gold.

I didn't attend the Enterprise 2.0 Conference this year, but judging by Jeff Whatcott's commentary, I'm not sure I missed much.

It would appear that the Enterprise 2.0 world is still recycling the same froth in an attempt to stand out. Here's what Whatcott had to say:

I spent some time checking out the competition to benchmark our messaging and functionality. I was struck by how thoroughly undifferentiated the pitches were. Everyone was giving essentially the same demo, talking about the same functionality and use cases.

Internally, I heard from Jean Barmash on the Alfresco consulting team who echoed Jeff's comments:

Walking around the exhibition floor, it looked like everybody was offering very similar stuff--big focus on "communities"--creating them, managing them, etc.

It feels like we're in the early stages of Enterprise 2.0. Let's call it Enterprise 1.8 where everyone is showing the right slideware and demos, but few, if any, really know how to put it all to productive business use.

Until the money steps in, I think we're going to remain in a curious limbo where "shiny baubles" (a colleague's favorite term) get rolled out widely but for which few pay because no one on the enterprise side has really connected the dots between community, user-generated content, and enterprise productivity/business value.

At present, all this "Build your own community!" and "Make your own companywide Facebook!" sound interesting but also a bit odd: Facebook remains a noisy, hustle-bustle of frantic friend-making followed by...tedious time-wasting. If that's your aim, bravo! But if you have a job...it's still not very effective at enabling you to do it better.

Not that there isn't promise in all this 2.0 hoopla. There is. We just haven't figured out what, precisely, it is. This is why it's particularly useful to have open-source social applications like those from Ringside Networks, Drupal, and increasingly Alfresco (where I work). Few can afford to fork over millions of dollars on a promise that "social" will turn into cash. Open source allows experimentation with minimal capital investment. This is as it should be.

Over the next year we're going to see the hype around Enterprise 2.0 reach a fever pitch, and many are going to be lost in disillusionment when it fails to turn to gold. However, in the mishmash there will be a few who finally figure it out, and the rest of the enterprise world will follow in due course.

For those early few, look to open source. It's the best way to try for free, tweak to individual needs, and pay for actual value delivered.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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