Web 2.0 in the enterprise event

I spoke on  a panel at the Web 2.0 event hosted by TiE tonight. All in all a really interesting couple of hours, as always it’s a great opportunity to sit next to Ross Mayfield, Charlene Li, and Jeff Clavier and talk about these things.

On the drive back I had a couple of thoughts. First, there is much confusion about what web 2.0 actually is… a technology, a business model, software delivery, or an ideology. I don’t think I realized how disruptive these ideas are until I saw them play out in the audience.

Speaking of the audience, it was very interactive. One of the best comments was when someone piped up that “web 1.0 is people on a stage talking to an audience, web 2.0 is the audience talking to each other”. Perfect, the participation economy in action.

The one aspect of this event that probably created self-inflicted confusion was that we tried to talk about too broad a reach of topics under the web 2.0 meme. It’s pretty hard to focus on the concept of mashups when you are also introducing blogs/wikis, or talk about the signifigance of scripting and hosted software delivery at the same time.

Lastly, it was interesting to realize that many people in enterprise IT (whether a vendor or a practitioner) look at these technologies and say “what will they do for me” or “what new apps will I get” and that really misses a subtle point. Web 2.0 is, IMO, user initiated packaging of application services so the real question should be “what can I do with these technologies that nobody else is doing.”

More on this topic (What's this?) Read more on Web 2.0, Computer Software at Wikinvest

17 thoughts on Web 2.0 in the enterprise event

  1. I attended the conference in the audience (one of those people in the front). Since I work for one of the (other) large enterprise software companies, I found your enthusiasm inspiring. At the same time, I feel that the role of leading vendors is two-fold: incorporate web 2.0-style features in enterprise applications (customizable UI being the least of them all); and, to provide tools that allow enterprises to roll-out wiki’s, blogs, tagging within the enterprise.

    In any case, I am still looking to see what new businesses will Web 2.0 enables. Web 1.0 ‘enabled’ Ebay, E-Trade, NetBank etc. Are there new businesses that will be formed or will this simply be better E-Trade, better Ebay? Not just new feature/functions like FlickR.

    Finally, I think the panel did an excellent job given the wide variance in the quality of audience.

  2. I attended this event tonight. Clearly there was a lack of knowledge in the audience about Web 2.0, which is neither a magical product offering nor a new technology to rock the world. It’s merely a natural evolution of the Web to the next logical stage (rich user interface, web as a platform for building interactive apps, close participation by users).

    In all fairness to the panelists (did an excellent job), this was like boiling the ocean – from wikis, to ajax, to RSS, to hosting, to role of CIO’s. I wish the discussion could have been narrowed just to one or two areas. “Collaboration in Context” is a key need within Enterprises that can be addressed by Web 2.0.

    The best way to see how Enterprises can exploit Web 2.0 is to take small steps and see the gains, such as a rich user interface (mash-ups, ajax) to an existing ERP/CRM/HRM/SCM GUI where RSS feeds can provide real-time event alerts or mash-ups can bring down number of screens or keystrokes.

    It’s a case of “expectation management”. Web 2.0 is no cure for cancer!

    I enjoyed your comments Jeff with actual examples inside SAP.

  3. This was one of the better panel discussions I have participated in, ironically for the reasons that made it a litle disjointed, the fact that too much ground was covered. I’ve been “living in this stuff” for a couple of years and it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that much of this technology isn’t entirely intuitive because of the culture shifts it stimulates. Also, in the real world of enterprise IT there are issues that the blog digerati would prefer not to have to deal with, so it’s always a good wake up call to hear people say “wait a minute, slow down”.

    I’m going to write more about the discussion last night in future entries, I have a lot of thoughts bouncing around my head.

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  5. Jeff,
    Thanks for sharing the thoughts. I believe that Web 2.0 provides users with new UI metaphors that lead to extremely simply/intuitive user experiences. Due to the simplicity, more people participate, which in turn increases the value of the whole application/ecosystem.

    From your experience, what is more likely to be the implementation channel for enterprise grade Web 2.0 applications:

    1. Servers that enterprises can deploy OR
    2. Software as a service

    Thanks.
    Kintan

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  7. As i suspected – little evidence of take up. But let’s put that aside for the moment. How will the CTO manage the inevitable wave of skunkworks? Loosely coupled is all very well provided you have the integration framework to manage those apps – obviously Netweaver (and I have my own take on that) is going in that direction but many many apps are not SOAP/WSDL etc compliant. That’s a major show stopper.

    BTW – has anyone looked to see if AJAX really scales? Where are the open APIs for enterprise class wikis – lots of important questions.

  8. Jeff, I dont agree with your point that ppl shd be asking “what can I do with these technologies that nobody else is doing.”

    1. From a vendor or practitioner perspective, it is correct to look at these things as offerings. If you start thinking, what can i do with these technologies, you will “invent” requirements. Remember, this is exactly the mistake webvan did in our last life.

    2. The cost equation this time is tempting. I heard Ross made socialtext with 5000 USDs. Now here is the problem: Sustainability is a completely different story. Tell me, if you make a movie on how the Internet looks like in 2012, where / what form do you think these Web2.0 firms will be? They will evolve, yes, but not because they ask the question u asked, but because they asked the question u said they shd not ask.

  9. Jeff,

    Your post said:
    ———-
    Lastly, it was interesting to realize that many people in enterprise IT (whether a vendor or a practitioner) look at these technologies and say “what will they do for me” or “what new apps will I get” and that really misses a subtle point. Web 2.0 is, IMO, user initiated packaging of application services so the real question should be “what can I do with these technologies that nobody else is doing.
    ———-

    I have to respectfully disagree. I’ve been involved in marketing and sales of high-tech products (including software and web-1.0 apps) for more than a decade. I strongly believe that in order to sell to enterprises across the board – the vendor has to demonstrate to the customer “what the product does for them”. That is the behavior/expectation of enterprise buyers – I don’t think that behavior will change just because we decide to name a bunch of technology “Web 2.0”.

    I wrote about this in more detail at my blog: http://michael.hightechproductmanagement.com/

    Having said that, I appreciate all the panel members for sharing their thoughts freely at the event. It was quite educational.

  10. Michael,
    I actually don’t disagree with you and maybe that is not coming through because I made a comment that basically said I was suggesting customers just go figure it out for themselves. I’m not, really.

    What I am saying is that cramming a bunch of web 2.0 into a new CRM or purchasing app isn’t going to work. Also, the very point of web2 is to enable a high degree of specialization and personalization, which puts it on us to come up with compelling customer examples in order to demonstrate the value. Traditional marketing still applies, I don’t dispute that.

    Maybe another way to say what I was thinking is that packaged application software is somewhat in contradiction with web2, we need to get away from selling suites of applications.

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