Book Review: The Shift to Enterprise 2.0 Won't Be Easy

In a 2006 article in Sloan Management Review, MIT researcher Andrew McAfee coined the term Enterprise 2.0, which simply means using Web 2.0 technologies, such as blogs, wikis, Google Docs and social networks, as tools for collaboration in a business setting. The hope is that this post-groupware technology will help businesses solve problems, capture employee knowledge and insights, and generally lead to more innovation.

Of course, the next step was for McAfee to expand the article into a book, naturally titled Enterprise 2.0 (Harvard Business Press, 2009).

Although the book has an official publication date of Dec. 1, 2009, much of it reads like it's 2006, 2007 or 2008 all over again. Facebook is presented as though it's a new phenomenon, and for the umpteenth time we hear about the history of Wikipedia and the value of "folksonomy" tagging in Delicious.

This first half of the book may be valuable background for a few clueless executives, but it's a real yawner for anyone who has read a business magazine in the past few years, not to mention the millions of businesspeople actively using Web 2.0 technologies today.

The second half of the book is somewhat better because it focuses on the serious challenge of getting corporate employees to actually use Web 2.0 tools internally on a sustained basis.

McAfee readily acknowledges that Enterprise 2.0 won't be an overnight success in the workplace -- more of a hard slog. Why? Because employees will stick with the status quo, the technology they know best, which is e-mail (with attachments), even though e-mail is a poor collaboration tool.

Indeed, one way for managers to hasten the adoption of Enterprise 2.0 is to say, "On this project, we'll only be using [name of Web 2.0 tool of choice], and I won't be reading e-mail about it." It helps if the Web 2.0 technology in question is easy to use, used by managers themselves and integrated with the normal workflow of the job, rather than being just One More Thing to Do.

But this is a generational issue. It won't be long before incoming workers -- raised on Facebook -- will expect Web 2.0 tools to be as much a part of office life as a desk and a chair.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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