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Are You Looking to Purchase an Enterprise 2.0 Solution? What You Need to Know

By on Aug 5, 2010 8 Comments

I wrote an article for CMS Wire (more on that later) entitled “What Buyers of Enterprise 2.0 Solutions Need to Consider Before Making a Purchase.” The whole point of the article is to address that small/medium and enterprise organizations have very different needs and capabilities when it comes to Enterprise 2.0, yet most vendors sell the same to every organization regardless of size. Well actually, that’s not entirely true. They do make some modifications to features and pricing, but that’s really meaningless. Vendors need to understand businesses in order to sell to them. Here’s a snippet from the article to clarify what I mean. Very special thanks to Gil Yehuda who in addition to being an adviser to Chess is perhaps the smartest E2.0 guy out there.

“Enterprise collaboration tools are becoming all the rage these days. But before you head off to the store to buy the latest and greatest, here are a few things to consider depending on if you are a large, enterprise organization, or a small-mid sized business.

Not too long ago the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled: “Enterprise 2.0 Goes Mainstream As Collaboration Tools Mature.” Indeed, Enterprise 2.0 collaboration tools are maturing — but who gets the most benefit from this market? It’s evident that large enterprises certainly need help around collaboration. Workers in large organizations frequently admit to not knowing what is going on within their own company, not being be able to find the right information they need, or not being able to connect with the right people to get their job done.

But, what about the smaller organizations? Do small and medium businesses have the same needs as enterprises when it comes to collaboration? For the purpose of this article let’s define small and medium companies to mean between 25 and 1000 employees, anything beyond that is an Enterprise.

So when the WSJ tells us that Enterprise 2.0 tools are getting better and going mainstream — you might be thinking that the time is finally right to get your hands on one of these tools to finally address your collaboration needs. But what do you need to know before you go to market? Here are some tips geared to different sized organizations.”

To read the rest of the article please check out CMS Wire and let me know what you think.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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8 Responses to Are You Looking to Purchase an Enterprise 2.0 Solution? What You Need to Know

  1. Esteban Kolsky August 7, 2010 at 1:51 am #

    Jacob,

    Are you saying that apples and oranges are the same?

    Gil, in the snippet you quote, is talking about enterprise collaboration tools — which are are technology pure and simple. you say Enterprise 2.0 — which is nowhere near technology (well, one part of it is technology — but when done well is not a technology-driven solution).

    As far as I can tell one of two things is happening, and either one is wrong:

    1) you are saying that enterprise collaboration tools and enterprise 2.0 is the same — which not only scares me but also explains very well the poor state of understanding and adoption for real enterprise 2.0 projects

    2) you made a minor mistake and confused the title and half the post you wrote by talking about enterprise 2.0 when you meant to write enterprise collaboration tools.

    either one is not good, but the second one is easy to fix — you just have to learn to differentiate between an enterprise 2.0 initiative, and the tools deployed to assist the launch of it.

    hoping is the easy fix one…

  2. Jacob Morgan August 7, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    This is semantics, the point of the article is to say that if you are going to be purchasing an E2.0/collaboration solution that this is what you need to consider. E2.0 is going to mean slightly different things to different people and it depends which definition you are using. Enterprise 2.0 = technology and business practices. In this article E2.0 solutions = technology solutions. Enterprise 2.0 = EMERGENT collaboration tools so sure, I could have added that word in there to clarify. I get what you’re saying but the message of the article should be pretty clear: If you are going to purchase an E2.0 solution (and to clarify “solution” means technology, then these are the things you should consider.

    This is the original definition of E2.0:

    “Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.”

    Here’s another one:

    “A system of web-based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise”

    There are many of these.

  3. Bob Thompson August 7, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    The original definition (per Jacob) is that Enterprise 2.0 is the “use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.”

    And the last Enterprise 2.0 conference I attended all of the vendors I visited said they were selling Enterprise 2.0 solutions. Don’t recall any mention of strategy.

    Yet Esteban says Enterprise 2.0 is different from collaboration tools. What’s the difference?

    Another questions: Since E2.0 (whether it is strategy or technology) includes “customers and partners” why do we need Social CRM? E2.0 seems to cover all sorts of collaboration, not just between employees.

    Is there an official definition of Enterprise 2.0 somewhere?

  4. Gil Yehuda August 8, 2010 at 12:07 am #

    Esteban,
    Jacob quoted his article, in which I’m quoted later, and thanked me for helping him with it. But the snippet above does not contain my quote.

    Basically, your option #2 is correct. The use of Enterprise 2.0 tools is just that, the use of tools. If you install them, then they are installed. Getting to a “2.0″ state is not a description of the software you have installed, but an assessment of a transformed work culture (behaviors). The E2.0 tools help, sometimes. And there are cases where companies demonstrate transformational behaviors without (or before using) E2.0 tools. W.L. Gore comes to mind as a good example of that.

    I have clarified my use of the term Enterprise 2.0 here: http://www.gilyehuda.com/2009/08/31/denial-is-a-river-full-of-crocks/ (a few paragraphs in — in the bold text). I agree with Sameer Patel’s definition as I believe it is the most accurate and useful. I take note that Mike Gotta (who I think is a much smarter E2.0 guy than I am — sorry Jacob), warned about going down rat-holes when trying to define this term. That said, it’s important to distinguish between tools and behaviors.

    Moreover I further clarify that Enterprise 2.0 is more of second-order category (a concept with no instances – like furniture). There is no Enterprise 2.0, there is your company’s 2.0 state — the transformation that could take place by accepting the “2.0″ behaviors that are supported by the E2.0 tools. See this post for more. http://www.gilyehuda.com/2009/11/19/there-is-no-enterprise20/

    Jacob’s article was not an attempt to unify Enterprise 2.0 with the act of buying tools — but noted the reality that given the state of the marketplace, there will be many companies who will go to market looking for tools (now that budgets are not as tight as they were last year, and there are many reports of successes in E2.0). As people got to market, Jacob draws a useful distinction between enterprises and smaller companies. It’s that distinction that is enterprise and SMB clients will find useful, because he’s reminding them to introspect and consider their unique goals when looking for tools.

    In other words — the only thing worse than thinking that E2.0 tools are the same as E2.0 is thinking that every company needs the same set of E2.0 tools. Once people realize they need to consider their unique tooling needs, then they’ll be receptive to the conversation that their “2.0″ aspirations and goals are also unique (and go way beyond the tools).

    Gil

  5. Gil Yehuda August 8, 2010 at 12:28 am #

    The “original” definition is Prof. McAffe’s definition — as he coined the term.

    Some of the more mature companies who sell E2.0 tools also provide strategy services — but 1. clients need these services before they choose a vendor, 2. some clients prefer strategy consultation from product-neutral vendors, and 3. E2.0 vendors are usually organized around products, not services. So companies like Jacob’s offer strategy consultation services that clients can purchase to help guide them toward the right path in the E2.0 and SCRM space (which may include alignment of goals, vendor selection and post implementation assessments or more).

    Esteban is correct that the Enterprise 2.0 vision is different from the collaboration tools — it’s the difference between being physically fit and owning many products that could help you become fit. You can’t buy a 6-pack ab. You can buy a $40 product or DVD that could help you get one. (More classically: No one wants to be a drill-owner. We just want holes. But you can’t buy a box of holes. So you have to buy the drill — and then use it correctly.)

    E2.0 is most commonly the collaboration between people in the same enterprise, although some do include external collaboration too. SCRM is most commonly collaboration between the externally facing parts of an enterprise and it’s customers (sometimes prospects too). There are many tools and concepts that are in common — but they are very different initiatives. Consider that 1. the buyers of these tools are very different people in the company. 2. the motivation of the participants are very different in these cases. and 3. the scope of participation is very different too. It is useful to see the E2.0 and SCRM as separate, related marketplaces.

    There is no “official” definition of E2.0 — since there is no office or officers to enforce it. The term is defined best by it’s most common usage. Even the wikipedians struggled with it. People who sell stuff will use it as a synonym for the product they sell (be it tool or strategy).

    Hope this helps.
    Gil

  6. Esteban Kolsky August 8, 2010 at 9:32 am #

    Gil,

    Thanks for the clarifying points.

    In spite of Jacob’s insistence that it is semantics, it is not. It is simple mis-statements that often confuse adopters into believing that something is easier than it really is, which is why it is important to make sure we have the terms and the concepts clear in the defining moments in the market.

    If we let the vendors lead the definitions, we will all end up owning P90X, Taebo, and every fitness DVD ever made — even though no one has the DVD player to take advantage of them (nice way to explain it — btw, the being fit versus owning products).

    That to me was the critical reason to take on the debate, not to make sure that someone’s definition was preferred over anybody’s else.

    Thanks for chiming in…

  7. Bob Thompson August 8, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    Thanks for the explanation, Gil.

    This problem seems like a repeat of CRM, though. Using the same name for two different things (practices or tools) is bound to lead to confusion.

    The original idea behind Enterprise 2.0 was the use of collaborative tools, not the tools themselves.

    However, it does seem clear that however you look at it, you can’t “do” Enterprise 2.0 without using new Web 2.0/social/collaborative (take your pick!) tools. Right?

    Personally, I think it makes more sense to talk about building a collaborative enterprise as the strategy/practices side of things. If vendors are going to market Enterprise 2.0 = tools, how will the outcome be any different than CRM, where it’s commonly associated with front-office technology?

  8. Gil Yehuda August 9, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Bob,
    The idea behind Enterprise 2.0 was that Prof. McAfee noticed that some organizations were leveraging new web-inspired tools and behaviors and realizing transformative results. Much like O’Reilley noted a change in Web tools and behaviors — then coining this “Web 2.0″, McAfee noticed this happening within some organizations too. He then examined why it sometimes works, and why this is the start of a longer-term business trend.

    Vendors naturally rose to meet the demand of clients who were looking for the improvements that others (they competitors) were finding. Advisors (such as Jacob, the author above) rose to the occasion to help organizations navigate the confusion of FUD and terminology skew.

    I disagree with the notion that you cannot “do” E2.0 without using tools. Just like I know that a company can relate to customers without using a CRM system. Of course, CRMs are quite important nevertheless — especially when you consider scale, attrition, and record keeping. E2.0 tools are also important when you consider similar issues. Tools help. But they are neither necessary nor sufficient.

    To carry a previous analogy: years ago I lost 30 lbs by joining Weight Watchers and following their program. If I was given a task to recommend a program for 10,000 people to loose weight, I would be biased toward WW since I know it worked for me. But I also know that signing up to WW does not mean you will loose any weight. I also know that you can loose weight without signing up for any program. But if you need to change behaviors for a large group of people, you start looking for tools and frameworks to help you. Your success rate of getting results within a large population will be higher with a good framework — and even better with a framework that meets your population’s specific needs.

    When you compare eating (diet) program to program, the vendors will emphasize all types of differences — related to research in nutrition, empirical evidence of effectiveness, costs, and other detailed items that differentiate their approaches — stuff they care about. If I want to drop some weight, should I have to read all the confusing research (and believe it?) — or would I want to ask a trusted advisor to help me out? Many choose the latter because they don’t really care about the program, they care about the results that are tailored to their specific needs. I believe this was Jacob’s message.

    So rather than getting confused about the many options when looking at tools that promise results — get focused on the results you are looking to achieve and the specific conditions that you have in place today. Then go to market informed. And yes, getting tools will help you achieve those goals. Getting the right tools, much more so.

    Gil

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