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Enterprise 2.0

Inevitably, when people discover a useful tool outside the workplace, they want to use it at the office as well. This happened years earlier when employees began sneaking personal computers into their offices to make it easier to manage spreadsheets and documents. More recently, end users have imported instant messaging and unlimited email8 services from external sources.

User demand for Web 2.0 technologies within existing corporate infrastructure is the catalyst for Enterprise 2.0.9 The challenge for firms is to integrate these new peer-based collaboration models with legacy technologies and mindsets. Figure 1.2 illustrates three areas that established organizations have typically established to control how solutions are delivered.

Figure 1.2

Figure 1.2 Typical organizational hierarchy

Enterprise 2.0 breaks down traditional divisional barriers and encourages building bridges. The managerial structure does not change, but the ability to conceive solutions and access the technology to deliver them is available to everyone (as shown in Figure 1.3).

Figure 1.3

Figure 1.3 Traditional barriers to solution delivery are removed in Enterprise 2.0. Each segment of an organization now has equal access to technology. To leverage this new environment, powerful (yet user-friendly) tools are introduced. These tools enable associates outside traditional IT to create their own solutions.

Changing the social structure of a firm is termed "soft reorganization." Its consequence is movement away from fixed roles and responsibilities and toward a more open and unrestricted workplace. The phrase "economies of scale" refers to the cost advantages associated with large-scale production. We term the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 the "economies of collaboration." How are they established?

  • Nontechnical users are empowered to create application solutions without engaging management or IT personnel in the process. This agility leads to shorter time-to-market cycles.
  • Folksonomies replace strict taxonomies (see the "Folksonomies versus Taxonomies" sidebar). Newly discovered connections between data and processes can be exploited to add business value.
  • New communication tools mine "the wisdom of the crowd" to encourage collaboration and innovation, a technique known as crowdsourcing (see the "Crowdsourcing" sidebar).

Open interaction can help teams discover how the other lines of business operate. This knowledge, in turn, leads to changes that strengthen relationships across departments.

  • IT must learn more about the business associates' goals, and create an environment that facilitates the rapid construction of products that they require.
  • Members of the business team must participate more directly in the engineering process (either on their own or in partnership with IT), which requires some knowledge about development best practices.
  • Management needs to cede some control to other teams and should work with all associates to encourage collaboration. This may entail:
    • Funding the necessary infrastructure.
    • Allowing cross-pollination between business teams.
    • Being open to ideas from nontraditional sources.

Security becomes a universal concern as the lines between teams vanish. The former "checks and balances" approach doesn't work when small teams are creating end-to-end solutions. In this collaborative milieu, firms have to strike a balance between technical controls10 and education to mitigate risk.

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