The question I always come back to when I hear the term Enterprise 2.0 is one that I think my buddy Dennis Howlett would ask. I mean, who gives a flying trombone? That's not really how Dennis would say it. I will let him express himself in his own words about why anyone in their right mind would pay for anything with a high price tag that has a big fat social label on it.
Here's what gets me. We get so wrapped up about collaboration concepts and the nuances of social. In this upside down world, social is a term that is more commonly use to describe enterprise architecture than it is about sharing a beer with your mates.
Really? Is that what we are talking about? No.
It's about the data and how apps are built in the most efficient manner possible. I was reminded of this during last week's Gillmor Gang when they talked about Google and Microsoft's search quarrels.
Back and forth they argued. Steve Gillmor said search is not even hot anymore. I have to agree. Search is being replaced by data as what now defines success. Google, Facebook and Microsoft are competing to give the best UX that presents contextual information in a cost efficient manner to the end customer.
Google's architecture holds up under scrutiny. It's built on Big Tables with MapReduce layered on top. Every app on Google runs on that same stack. That means for affordable apps that can leverage a pooled compute infrastructure. That's powerful.
Microsoft? They have cost issues with their online services. The losses keep piling up. The online services group is on track to lose $3 billion.
Its software architecture is designed for desktops, not servers. That's an issue that forces it to be a solutions oriented company like IBM.
The jury is still out about Facebook but the company has built a data infrastructure that has set it apart from almost any other competitor in the world. It's UX extends the metaphor of the gesture in a way that companies such as Salesforce.com seek to emulate.
Howlett grumbles and groans about the social fever that makes enterprise managers look more like a court believing the emperor really is resplendent with jewels.
But I say try this:
Turn the context to data and you will see companies in a different light. It will give a fuller perspective about how these companies build applications. That's better than labeling them into some abstract category that people scratch their heads about between tweets.
Look at modern applications and you see the difference that data makes. We layer activity stream technologies into interfaces that presents data in streams that we use to share information. That's as important as using data to predict sales for a service or spotting new banks of customers. You have to talk with people. That's part of doing business.
So, let's think about this a bit differently. We can argue endlessly about the promises of social business and Enterprise 2.0. Fine. I will argue all night over dinner about the merits of language and metaphors for getting what you want in the market.
But I think we can have a fuller conversation about the market by looking at companies through a data prism more than if we create a tempest in a tea cup about the social way we want to be.
Perhaps we just don't communicate that well. And that's why we so insist to talk about being social.
Personally, I'd prefer the social life to fit between my tweets. It's more fun that way, isn't it?