The Enterprises Understand: 'Community' Is Important, but Don't Forget Control

Ann All

We've said it before, and we'll keep saying it: After all the dust settles, Web 2.0 technologies will work better in the enterprise than they do in the world-at-large.


It looks like at least one venture capitalist and two Internet executives may agree with us. In a recent article, a partner at the Sequoia Capital firm groused that "very soon there will be enough social networking companies for each U.S. citizen" and wondered "How many of these can people belong to."


We're not venture capitalists, but this is pretty much what we've been thinking. Social networks make the most sense when folks share common goals and objectives, want to compare notes on topics of mutual interest, and maybe do a little networking -- as in, say, a workplace. The incentive would be especially strong if folks had coworkers scattered about the globe.


The wildly disparate motivations of bloggers and other members of online communities make it tough to monetize online content, points out the former COO at Fox Interactive. Not only that, but the publisher or aggregator may not be in control -- a point proved all too well by the recent "Internet riot" at


For better or for worse, control is something at which companies excel -- along with well-defined purpose and accountability.


Enterprises will also likely take the lead in constructing the underlying technical architecture, a nuts-and-bolts area that often gets ignored in all of the talk about Web 2.0 "communities" and "collective intelligence."


Bet on enterprises finding the answers to such questions as one rhetorically posed by the former Fox Interactive exec: "What should your storage and network costs be when there are a hundred million unique pieces of content that could light up at any time?" After all, users of Facebook or MySpace expect uptime, businesses demand it.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
May 17, 2007 3:40 AM David Lavenda David Lavenda  says:
I fully agree with this piece. The collaboration aspects of web 2.0 are great, but it is time we moved beyond them to talk about how web 2.0 can really drive the business and let people be more effective at their jobs.Far too much attention is being given to the wiki/blog aspects of Enterprise 2.0. What I hear from companies is that they want to understand how web 2.0 technologies can help their businesses and that means leveraging existing applications to do more business, and do it better.This was exactly our philosophy when we designed WorkLight. WorkLight is a server-based product that extends enterprise applications to the myriad "soft-core" business users who need "hard cord" application data, but often do not have access the applications themselves, because the apps are too complicated and too expensive for these folks to use. "Soft-core" users include manager, sales and service personnel, and other front-line employees. These people need information about things like sales leads, order status, invoice details, inventory levels, and invoice payment status. As the article states, the correct way to give these people access and let them be more productive is to install a web 2.0 infrastructure that supports the business. Reply

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