Dion Hinchcliffe did a bang up job presenting the essence of where we are and what’s next for the Enterprise 2.0 community at the Web 2.0 Expo conference in San Francisco last week. Hinchcliffe has tended to focus on web tools for the Enterprise and explains their utility better than most. But last week’s talk focused on this year’s issue: a sputtering economy. Hinchcliffe mapped out all the economic benefits that could be derived from a networked economy. Focusing on areas that were transformational, not simply additive, he detailed how social business strategies could help pull lethargic enterprises out of the recession.

From dramatic savings in development costs to large gains in customer retention, the data is starting to trickle in on leading case studies. But the data is not easy to obtain. Hinchcliffe expressed some frustration capturing “before and after” data from which you can clearly draw positive, causal conclusions. “Once the client makes the commitment to move forward, they don’t want to be distracted. They want to move forward and roll it out,” he said. Another frustration is gathering data from non-tech companies as technology firms are more inclined to embrace the tenets and practices surrounding Enterprise 2.0.

Yet, there was much more solid evidence to present at this year’s conference than last year’s and not a moment too soon, as all Enterprises are interested in finding novel ways to reinvent themselves facing touch economic challenges. “Digital business models are evolving and traditional business models are reaching the end of their returns. We’ve seen the natural outcome of the 1.0 world — it hasn’t been that good for us. We see these entirely new types of business models that are highly social and have highly social computing structures. They hold the potential for where growth and innovation is going to come from,” he summarized.

If you were unable to get to the show, don’t miss the slides. I hear there is a video in the works as well.