Home Straw Man Argument About Enterprise 2.0 Doesn’t Fly

Straw Man Argument About Enterprise 2.0 Doesn’t Fly

Dennis Howlett got the attention of the Enterprise 2.0 community today, with his continued skepticism about “social” technologies and their place in the business world. Here’s a quote from his post entitled Enterprise 2.0 – the non-debate:

“Why am I not surprised? I’ve argued for years that the notion of anything that has ‘social’ attached to its moniker is about as welcome as breaking wind in a spacesuit.”

While Howlett makes a few good points in his post, we think that he’s making a straw man argument – that the Enterprise 2.0 community is somehow involved in a big lie.

The reality is that Enterprise 2.0 applications augment our work and these technologies are having an effect on productivity and in some respects, business processes.

We spoke today with Mike Gotta, an industry analyst with the Burton Group. He puts it well. For data entry and claims processing, people use other tools. The Enterprise 2.0 offerings augment their work.

“Dennis has a point,” Gotta said. “These systems are not workflow driven – we already have tools to do that. These tools augment work. They enhance it, they enrich it.”

But even tools like ERP offerings are integrating lightweight layers to make them more usable, so that people can get their work done. We also recently wrote about Netvibes working with Sage Software to provide personal dashboards so business users can better use ERP applications.

A few other signs:

The Services sector is growing. We spoke to a large technology company this week that is questioning how they can grow under the weight of the email that stalls people in their work. They are working with a large services group which is helping them look at a number of ways for real-time data and notifications to take some of the load off of their engineering team. They’ve looked around and believe Enterprise 2.0 tools can perform a role that will help them grow and become a more profitable business.

More use cases are popping up. No matter how you feel about the Enterprise 2.0 conference, a lot of companies were there to say how they are using lightweight technologies to solve productivity and business problems.

Companies on the sell side are growing. Are they all charlatans? If so, are their clients really that stupid? We don’t think so. To call people fakes is to say that these poor business people are just victims. That makes no sense. Moreover, we wonder how much more waste enterprises can take with heavyweight IT projects – those cost far more than a SaaS offering that you can test, try and pay on a per use basis.

We do see the gap between productivity and the business side of the organization with Enterprise 2.0 technologies. But the innovation is there. And lines of business are taking advantage of tools because they help get the work done.

We do agree that ‘social’ is a term too often overused. But to dismiss the Enterprise 2.0 community is going a bit too far – and does not reflect the reality of this new world.

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