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Friday, June 26, 2009

Enterprise 2.0 conference - the answer is not there

The Enterprise 2.0 conference is almost over, and the lesson from this year is that all this is still a work in progress. Lots of vendors selling similar things, a few of their customers to explain what has worked for them, and consultants trying to sort it out.

The premise of the conference (from what I have seen) was to ask vendors to submit case studies that could be presented to the world. And this is what you get: stories from vendors, through their customers, on the benefits of Web 2.0 technologies used within the enterprise. This is all nice and good, but not really enough to establish a solid model on how to make change happen. And clearly not enough to make a real difference. I have talked to several people who were at the conference 2 years ago or last year and expressed frustration that not much has changed.

And why is it not different? Because the real answers cannot come from an Enterprise 2.0 show, or a Web 2.0 show for that matter. Even though technology is what enabled change, and created the opportunity for the discussion we are having now, the real issue is societal, sociological and political before being technological. It is the issue of power, control and the relationship between an individual and the ecosystem at large. It is not software vendors or their customers who initiated the change, it is the Open Source community who demonstrated that it was possible to build very complex system from a very un-formal organization. And it is users who are now defining usage and processes that can then be formalized into products.

Enterprise 2.0 will be driven by users learning what works and what does not, driving a shift in how organizations are run, first on smaller projects and probably outside core business, and then slowly percolating into the Enterprise.

So I expect a lot more from the Participation Camp (Change the Rules) coming up at the end of this week in New York city. An Unconference driven by users to resolve issues related to the balance of powers. Hopefully a place where the current power structures are challenged through discussions, and where the lessons from existing successes can define how we can work tomorrow...

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