What is Enterprise 2.0?

Enterprise 2.0 Explained

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What is Enterprise 2.0? The easy answer is that Enterprise 2.0 is bringing Web 2.0 into the office, but that is not entirely accurate. In part, Enterprise 2.0 is a push toward integrating the social and collaborative tools of Web 2.0 into the office environment, but Enterprise 2.0 also represents a fundamental change in how businesses operate.

In the traditional corporate environment, information flows through an ordered path. Information is passed down the chain from the top to the bottom, and suggestions made from the bottom flow toward the top.

Enterprise 2.0 changes this structured order and creates controlled chaos. In an Enterprise 2.0 structure, information flows laterally as well as up and down. In essence, it cuts the chains that hold back collaboration in a traditional office environment.

This is one reason why Enterprise 2.0 can be a tough sell to management. Order is a manager's best friend, so knowingly unleashing chaos runs counter to their instincts.

What is Enterprise 2.0? It is unleashing chaos in the office, but when done right, this chaos cuts the bonds keeping employees from good communication and boosts overall productivity.

Enterprise 2.0 - The Wiki

One of the most popular forms of Enterprise 2.0 is the business wiki. The wiki is a tried-and-true collaborative system that is just as good for small tasks, like keeping up with a staff directory or a dictionary of industry jargon, as it is with large tasks, like charting the development process of large products or holding online meetings.

It is also one of the easiest ways to begin implementing Enterprise 2.0 into the workplace. Because Enterprise 2.0 constitutes an entirely different approach to business, it is best implemented with baby steps. Implementing small measures such as an employee directory inside of a wiki can be a great first step.

Enterprise 2.0 - The Blog

While wikis get a lot of press, blogs can also provide a great role in an organization. For example, a human resources blog can be used to post company memos and frequently asked questions can be quickly asked and answered in the blog comments.

Blogs can also be used to keep employees informed of major events concerning the company or happening within a department. In essence, blogs can provide that top-to-bottom communication that management needs to provide while doing so in an environment where employees can easily ask for clarification or make suggestions.

Enterprise 2.0 - Social Networking

Social networking provides a great interface for Enterprise 2.0. As the efforts to implement Enterprise 2.0 into a corporate intranet grow, traditional interfaces for operating the intranet can become unwieldy.

Social networking is uniquely qualified for not just providing an interface for the intranet, but also adding utility. After all, a business is run through a series of networks. A person might be in a department, but have a sub-department that they work closely with, and might belong to multiple committees within the organization. Social networking can help with the communication flow of these multiple networks.

For larger companies, social networking can also provide a great way to find specialized skills and knowledge. Through profiles, a person can detail the projects they have worked on and the various skills and knowledge they have. These profiles can then be used by others to search and find the perfect person for helping out with a particular task.

For example, if an executive is having a meeting with an international company and would like to have an employee on hand that speaks a specific language, a quick search of the company's social network can create a list of candidates.

Enterprise 2.0 - Social Bookmarking

The process of tagging and storing documents can become an important aspect of Enterprise 2.0 as the social and collaborative efforts successfully grow the intranet into a primary resource for the company. Social bookmarking allows a person not only to store important documents and pages, but to do so using a very flexible organizational system that will quickly allow them to put a document into multiple categories if needed.

Social bookmarking also provides another avenue for users to quickly find the information they need. Like an intelligent search engine, social bookmarking lets users search for particular tabs to find documents other people have bookmarked. This can be great when looking for a particular document that the user knows exists but is unsure where it might be located.

Enterprise 2.0 - Micro-blogging

While it is easy to think of sites like Twitter as an fun way to waste a little time, they actually provide a great blueprint for greater communication and collaboration. Micro-blogging can be used to let teammates know what you are working on and to quickly communicate and organize a group.

Used as a collaborative tool, micro-blogging can be used to keep employees from stepping on each other's toes or wasting time reinventing the wheel. For example, a blog network could use micro-blogging to let writers notify other writers what they are working on. This can be used to keep two writers from publishing what essentially would amount to the same articles. Another example is a programmer about to write a routine that might already be in his co-workers library.

Enterprise 2.0 - Mashups and Applications

Office 2.0 applications can also provide a pivotal role in Enterprise 2.0. Online word processors allow for easy collaboration on documents, and online presentations can allow for quick access from anywhere in the world without the hassle of installed software and up-to-date data files.

As mashups continue to evolve, they can be great ways for employees to create custom applications without the need for IT intervention. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of Enterprise 2.0 to implement, mashups also have some of the biggest upside. By putting some development control in the hands of the user, not only is the workload for the IT department reduced thus allowing them more time to work on priority projects, but employees get their applications faster and can customize them to their specific needs.