Enterprise 2.0 ROI: Collaborative research and mobility Part One

In this article, I explore the idea that

The ROI for Enterprise 2.0 lies in

a) Collaborative research and development and

b) Mobility

This set of articles comprise of four parts

Enterprise 2.0 ROI: Collaborative research and mobility Part One

The ROI for Enterprise 2.0: Part Two: User contributions to Enterprise 2.0 – Doing a Robert Scoble

ROI for enterprise 2.0: Part Three : Collaborative research in new product design

Part Four: Mobility and ROI within the Enterprise


According to Tim O Reilly, Enterprise 2.0 is one of the two futures of Web 2.0(the other being mobile)

With Mc Kinsey also recommending that enterprises look at Web 2.0, Web 2.0 within the Enterprise has become mainstream

Recently, I have been exploring some of the ideas of Enterprise and Web 2.0(with an added dimension of mobility) working with a few companies in Europe.

I am familiar with Enterprise applications because prior to working with Mobile applications in 1999; I used to work for PeopleSoft (now Oracle corporation) as a senior consultant working with ERP , Data warehouses and large scale databases.

While Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and Mobility are all interesting topics in themselves, the synergies between them are much more interesting; as I hope to discuss in this article.

But, first, let’s start with some definitions.

I have been accused in the past of being rather pedantic over definitions .. but a common framework is important especially in the ’2.0′ world

In a nutshell, Enterprise 2.0 can be seen to be ‘Web 2.0 gone corporate’.

In spite of a running debate on the Wikipedia definition of Enterprise 2.0 ; there are two main definitions of ’2.0′ when it comes to Enterprise: Office 2.0 coined by Ismael Ghalimi and Enterprise 2.0 created by Andrew McAfee

Dion Hinchcliffe summarises them succinctly when he says:

Office 2.0 represents the increasing use of browser-based software in the office, while Enterprise 2.0 is more Web 2.0-ish in that it specifically describes the use of freeform, emergent, social software to conduct collaboration and share knowledge.

I believe that the current focus on Enterprise 2.0 is oriented towards tools(wikis, blogs) and less on people.

Within the background of these definitions; most of the thinking today is driven by tools vendors – and is based on ‘Intranet 2.0′ (if one may coin that phrase!) – i.e. some form of better ‘in house’ collaboration.

This approach has two immediate problems

a) The payoff with a collaborative tool implementation is difficult to quantify even with the best of implementations. For instance, Nick Carr believes that the best employees may be simply too busy to contribute

b) The implementation of a specific software/tool is viewed as a cost centre and not a profit centre i.e. not directly in the income stream of the company

Instead of focussing on tools, Enterprises can gain a lot more by shifting the focus to products and to people.

Web 2.0

Much has been said about the definitions of Web 2.0 – by me and by others. So, I won’t go into that in detail. Like Dion, Dave Winer and others; I believe that harnessing collective intelligence is the root principle of Web 2.0

So, it all comes down to ‘contribution’

Getting people to contribute in a consumer scenario is hard enough – but the success of Flickr, YouTube and others shows that it is clearly possible

In an enterprise scenario, this gets more complex

So, we have to ask ourselves:

a) Who is contributing?

b) Why?

c) What would make people contribute to a ‘company’? By that I mean – Flickr, YouTube etc are companies – but we don’t think of them as such. There is a big difference between ‘contributing and sharing’ picture to flickr vs. ‘sharing’ with Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Ford, GM, Boeing and so on ..

Inspite of these questions, we all agree that – as the Enterprise network matures from a closed/proprietary to open and collaborative; the value shifts to the edge of the network for a company

The edge may be its customers, partners and its employees and also devices(as a point of interaction). This answers the first part of the question – the contributors could be customers, partners, employees and also a large number of often anonymous data sources triggered by devices.

This information is often unstructured and is a two way feedback mechanism.

In subsequent parts, we will look at: How to get contributions to Enterprise 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 ROI , product development and the significance of mobility


  1. Mark Bean says:

    I will be interested to find out what innovative mobile applications come out of the Office 2.0 conference this September. BTW I registered my office 2.0 sandbox in 2002. Glad you guys are finally catching on.

  2. Rakesh says:

    I would like to understand how mobile is the future of web 2.0. Do you have any articles on that