Is Enterprise 2.0 Dead Like SOA?


As I posted here on Jan. 16, the Computerworld article reporting that SpikeSource's SuiteTwo was being discontinued segued into a report on the failure of Enterprise 2.0. Maybe it's just the time of year, slow news cycle, the malaise of the economic crisis, I dunno. Declaring buzzwords dead seems to be a trend because a bunch of bloggers declared SOA dead a few weeks ago, too.

I don't think Enterprise 2.0 has failed and I don't even like buzzwords very much. To explain why I have to convince you to agree with me about what Enterprise 2.0 is. It's not just internal blogging, Facebook and Wikipedia in the workplace, which is the reason Computerworld was declaring it dead.

The combination of Six Apart, RSS content syndication software from NewsGator, SimpleFeed, and wiki software from Socialtext failed, in my opinion (as always, please add yours), because it was the integration of something that didn't need integration. What Enterprise 2.0 is is a step further, the integration of such social-computing technologies not with each other but with ERP, CRM and so forth. And you should be able to integrate any social computing software with any ERP, CRM and so forth.

This is about the third try at integrating such functionality. I believe in "third time's a charm," admittedly a very unscientific way to do information-technology prognosticating -- but it works. By the way, I call social computing simply collaboration. Sorry that it's not as sexy. Here's the history:

  • Twenty years ago, we tried to do it between manufacturing resource planning (what ERP was called before it was ERP) and office automation software such as IBM Profs, WangOffice and Digital's All-in-One.
  • Ten years ago, we saw the attempt to link SAP R/3 and similar back office application products to IBM Notes and primitive document-based workflow products.

There was (and is) a strong demand for such functionality, but technological barriers held back the idea. In the first case, there were too many platforms matched up with too many proprietary software products, which made all the interoperability connections too hard to keep up with. Interoperability improved by the time Notes and the like came along but ERP had become so complex and disparate that users were simply willing to settle for interoperability (which also solved some important supply chain automation issues that provided a much bigger return on investment than collaboration provided).


Now the time has come to go the next step, and the stars are aligned correctly to make it happen. Part of the equation is that the user base is much larger (not just power users) and better-trained (because it uses the same tools for personal reasons) in using automation than it was 20 and 10 years ago.


Enterprise 2.0 lives.