Enterprise, Web 2.0 and Mobility

This article is the fourth part of a series of four articles covering the impact of Web 2.0 on the Enterprise space. It covers the interplay between Web 2.0, Enterprise and Mobility

The other parts are (The parts can be read independently)

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

Traditionally, the Mobile Enterprise market has been the domain of the Blackberry . The Blackberry has always been focused on email – which seems to be fine for most people. Consequently, on first glance, it appears that not much is happening when it comes to Enterprise and Mobile devices. Indeed, much of the focus of the Mobile data industry itself is geared to the consumer market – further reinforcing that perception

But perceptions can be deceptive because there are significant moves being made both by the Web/Enterprise players to enter mobile space and the mobile players to enter the Enterprise markets.

For instance ..

a) The launch of the Mosh network from Nokia

b) Google’s acquisition of Postini

c) Nokia’s acquisition of Intellisync

d) Motorola’s acquisition of Good technology

e) SoonR – which has always been in the desktop access market from mobile devices

f) Nokia’s E series devices targeting the Enterprise

Why is this happening? And why now?

Historically, Enterprise software can be classed into:

a) Bespoke (for instance banking software)

b) ERP (Enterprise resource planning) – for example SAP and Oracle (My alma mater! – since I used to work for PeopleSoft)

c) Desktop software (for instance Microsoft Word)

d) Conversational / Collaboration software(example email)

A more interesting definition comes from JP Rangaswamy

.. where he classifies activity into Syndication. Search. Conversation and Fulfilment and says


Well, in most service industries, people appear to “work” by doing four things:

They look proactively for information. They search for things.

They receive information because they said they were interested in receiving that information. They subscribe to things.

They talk to each other using various forms of communication: letter, e-mail, audio, video, text, IM, blog, wiki, twitter, whatever. They are even known occasionally to talk to each other face to face without use of technology.

And they transact business as a result. Within the enterprise. In the extended enterprise and partners and supply chain. With customers.


With this definition, the central theme underpinning the intersection of the Web, Mobility and the Enterprise appears to be the need for collaboration through smaller/more granular transactions which require greater synchronization within and across enterprises

We saw the ‘why’ but – How is this happening?

The implementation

The ‘how’ (implementation) of Mobility and Web 2.0 within the Enterprise is based on three key ideas:

a) The usage of the social network as a Meta layer above both the Web and the Mobile domains. The social network becomes the interface between various departments and also across enterprises

b) The rise of Cloud computing

c) The unified profile/address book

Let us first look at Cloud computing ..

I have covered cloud computing many times before in this blog – and indeed Eric Schmidt includes cloud computing in his definition of Web 3.0 when he says that


Web 3.0 will be “applications that are pieced together” – with the characteristics that the apps are relatively small, the data is in the cloud, the apps can run on any device (PC or mobile), the apps are very fast and very customizable, and are distributed virally (social networks, email, etc).


Google’s G drive and Microsoft’s skydrive are efforts in that direction.

The key here, when it comes to mobility is: Once the data is ‘in the cloud – it can be accessed on any device’.

Indeed that’s the significance of Mobile Ajax – which many people miss completely – because Mobile Ajax (with cloud computing) is a powerful combination (Mobile Ajax is more than a pretty face )

The other two ideas (Social network and unified address book/profile) can be illustrated by the launch of Nokia’s Mosh network

Mosh from Nokia is a social network which spans across the desktop and the mobile device. It enables you to upload audio, videos, documents, images, games and applications to your profile. For every object you are interested in (for instance the audio, video, documents etc), you can share, collect (tag) or download. Thus, Mosh creates a social network (spanning the desktop and Mobile device).

Thus, the social network could be the first point of contact – and a social network spans the Web and the Mobile domains.

All this is possible only if is trusted!

Do we trust Google with it’s cloud? Let me put it to you this way .. My email now resides on gmail(including my Futuretext email which can be aliased from gmail ..) but YET .. the gmail logo still shows ‘BETA’!!

Do we care? No. We think gmail will be around ..

For the same reason, I would trust Nokia ..(Mosh)

Contrast this with one more social network launched last week .. from a familiar name .. Plaxo.

Yes, everyone is getting into the act of creating a social network, including the dreaded Plaxo

However, do we trust Plaxo? Most people(including me) will not touch Plaxo at all .. based on painful memories of spamming the address book when it first launched ..

So, to conclude ..

a) Unlike the efforts of Nokia, Google and to an extent Motorola, the incumbent(RIM/Blackberry) seems to be very focussed on email only – which may be a mistake especially because devices like the Nokia E series could easily go for this market.

b) The profile(and consequently the unified address book) are the holy grail of Enterprise software. From the profile/address book, an entire social network could be built – as the Nokia/Mosh service is looking to do.

c) It is a mistake to look at Enterprise Mobility without taking into account the larger picture – for instance the ideas behind Cloud computing

d) The companies which will define this space will be the ones who understand the Web and the Mobile domains and who can be trusted .. and that may mean at the moment it’s a three horse race between Nokia, Google and Microsoft

e) Trust will be a key factor as social networks take on the role of ‘interfaces’ within and across Enterprises.

f) Finally, to recap: The central theme underpinning the intersection of the Web, Mobility and the Enterprise appears to be the need for collaboration through smaller/more granular transactions which require greater synchronization within and across enterprises

This concludes the four part series. I may add more articles later extending some of the ideas here. As usual, comments welcome.

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