Web 2.0 made simple in Niall Cook’s new book, Enterprise 2.0

Enterprise 2.0 emerged in the wake of the buzzword of 2006: Web 2.0. It describes enterprise use of social media platforms – networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, RSS feeds, wikis, blogs and tagging. The market for Enterprise 2.0 technologies is growing rapidly: the analyst house Forrester Research published a report earlier this year predicting that enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies will be a $4.6 billion industry by 2013. So, it comes as no surprise to see the release of a book that describes itself as one of the first to explain the impact that social software will have in the workplace and how staff will use it to work together in the future.

Enterprise 2.0 is written by Niall Cook – Hill and Knowlton’s Director of Marketing Technology. He takes the reader through the social software landscape and introduces the key concepts that make up Enterprise 2.0. The book is divided into four sections that nicely balance history, theory and methodology and include a wide range of examples of companies’ efforts in this area.

It can be difficult for companies to identify which Web 2.0 technologies can help them introduce the tools into the workplace and then get staff to use them. However, companies are fast realising that communicating with staff and customers is no longer a one-way process – today’s technology gives everyone an equal voice. Also, younger workers coming into the workplace expect to deploy the same Web 2.0 tools in their professional lives that they use at home. Overall, it is clear to see why this is a subject that people in the workplace need to sit up and take notice of.

The book brings together a range of examples of organisations around the world – including Microsoft, BUPA, IBM and Oracle – that are experimenting with Web 2.0 tools in the enterprise. The numbers in some of the case studies make a very compelling argument for Enterprise 2.0. For example, when three Oracle employees wanted to enable employees to exchange and critique ideas it took just 24 hours to build a basic site. Pharmaceutical company Janssen-Cilag replaced its static intranet in Australia with a wiki – that could be edited by all employees – in two weeks and on a budget of just $5,000. Cleverly using the site as the primary information source for an office move, the site had 5,000 changes from 111 employees after three months and after 18 months had over 23,000 contributions from 239 staff (roughly 70% of the total workforce). All the case studies are full of insights that reveal just how collaborative Enterprise 2.0 can be.

The book is by no means a compendium of case studies and other people’s advice; an interesting red thread running through the book is the 4Cs – Communication, Cooperation, Collaboration and Connection. Cook uses this framework as a simple way to classify social software tools and then breaks down each category in detail, presenting some of the most prevalent social software along with applicable case studies. As well as a solid background on each category, Cook’s 4Cs serve as a practical action-led guide to employing social software within organisations.

This simplified classification system can help people to understand how to deploy the wide array of social software tools available today to an organisation’s best advantage. However, as Cook indicates, the people who most clearly see the potential of Web 2.0 tools and who have the highest interest in using them at work are usually in every department except IT. Unfortunately, these business owners usually do not have the knowledge or expertise to make technology purchasing decisions for their company. On the other hand, the IT managers with that authority often view social software as insecure at best and a security threat to the business at worst and are therefore one of the main barriers to getting Web 2.0 into the enterprise. As a result, an initiative often falls over when it gets to the IT department, who are more concerned with maintaining current infrastructure than experimenting with new unproven technologies. This is one of the major challenges of widespread adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in the enterprise.

This book proves that a market is establishing itself and that companies are starting to take the plunge and experience the benefits that Web 2.0 in the enterprise can bring. Enterprise 2.0 is something that we will increasingly hear about in the coming months; Cook’s book is a great way to educate people new to the subject while enabling those who are already experienced in the area to add to their knowledge. He has produced a fresh book that shows how easy it can (and should) be to start experimenting with Web 2.0 technologies in the workplace. Cook’s message comes through loud and clear throughout the book: start experimenting with social software platforms today and begin to understand what will work in your organisation.

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