Harvard Professor Andrew McAfee:

I have an article in the spring 2006 issue of Sloan Management Review (SMR) on what I call Enterprise 2.0 —  the emerging use of Web 2.0 technologies like blogs and wikis (both perfect examples of network IT) within the Intranet.  The article describes why I think this is an important and welcome development, the contents of the Enterprise 2.0 ‘toolkit,’ and the experiences to date of an early adopter.  It also offers some guidelines to business leaders interested in building an Enterprise 2.0 infrastructure within their companies.

One question not addressed in the article is: Why is Enterprise 2.0 is an appealing reality now?…

He continues, in his blog:

As described in the SMR article, these tools include powerful search, tags (the basis for the folksonomies at del.icio.us and flickr), and automatic RSS signals whenever new content appears.  As I type these words I don’t know the best site to serve as the link behind the abbreviation ‘RSS’ in the previous sentence.  To find this site, I’m going to type ‘RSS’ into Google and see what pops up (sure enough, the Wikipedia entry for ‘RSS’ was pretty high in Google’s results).  I also don’t know the URL of the page I’m using right now to type this blog entry.  I do know that it’s on my del.icio.us page, tagged as ‘APMblog,’ so I can find it whenever I want.  And I don’t know what work my three collaborators on a research project are doing right now; I just know that when any of them has some results to share or a new draft of the paper they’ll post it on the project’s wiki (which is powered by Socialtext) and I’ll immediately get an RSS notification about it.

These examples are not meant to show that my professional life is perfectly organized (that assertion would be worse than false; it would be fraudulent) or that we’ve addressed all the challenges associated with the growth of the Web.  They’re meant instead to illustrate how technologists have done a brilliant job at three tasks: building platforms to let lots of users express themselves, letting the structure of these platforms emerge over time instead of imposing it up front, and helping users deal with the resulting flood of content.

As the SMR article discusses, the important question for business leaders is how to import these three trends from the Internet to the Intranet —  how to harness Web 2.0 to create Enterprise 2.0.

Andrew also dug deep to develop a Harvard Business School Case Study: Wikis at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.

Former HBR Editor Nick Carr, always one for orderly skepticism, comments on the SMR article:

McAfee sounds a note of caution along these lines. He notes the possibility that “busy knowledge workers won’t use the new technologies, despite training and prodding,” and points to the fact that “most people who use the Internet today aren’t bloggers, wikipedians or taggers. They don’t help produce the platform – they just use it.” There’s the rub. Managers, professionals and other employees don’t have much spare time, and the ones who have the most valuable business knowledge have the least spare time of all. (They’re the ones already inundated with emails, instant messages, phone calls, and meeting requests.) Will they turn into avid bloggers and taggers and wiki-writers? It’s not impossible, but it’s a long way from a sure bet.

This is true, adoption is the rub.  But one hedge we have is, to McAfee’s point, how these tools help cope with overload.  I’d wager, in fact I have, that email volume will only increase, some devices only exacerbate the problem, and unlike KM — more productive and simpler models have an upper hand.

Dion Hinchcliffe focuses on the technical aspects of this trend: Ajax, SaaS and SoA.  But what is really different is the focus on users ahead of buyers and architecture.  Remember, it’s made of people.

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