Friday, April 3, 2009

Putting Web 2.0 to Work: Social Software in the Enterprise

Ross Mayfield of Socialtext at Wikimania in Fr...Image via Wikipedia

So, this is another session on Enterprise 2.0, one of the big topics at Web 2.0 Expo. The speaker is Ross Mayfield (CEO of Socialtext). He starts looking back in history. Only seven years ago, wikis, blogs, social platforms etc. were only used by a couple of technology folks. Within a couple of years, these social software platforms caught our imagination and changed the way organizations work.

"Web 2.0 is made of people. The power of these application comes from how people use it."

Three spaces for application of Web 2.0 in organizations:
1. Social Intranets, e.g. platforms behind firewalls which are used for enhanced collaboration in organizations
2. Social Extranets, e.g. platforms for organizations to collaborate with their customers / stakeholders / partners
3. Social Media, e.g. the established platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. which organizations can tap on to get into dialogue with people.

Patterns that are evolving:

Enterprise 1.0 to Enterprise 2.0
  • document-centric to people-centric
  • structured to freeform
  • taxonomy to folksonomy
  • folders to tagging
  • knowledge management to knowledge sharing
  • need-to-know to need-to-share
  • one-to-many to many-to-many
  • centralized to distributed
  • top down to emergent
  • rigid to flexible
Email is a document centric paradigm more related to paper than to modern forms of virtual collaboration.

"The average employee spends one day per week searching for people and information. But search provides results, not answers. Discovery provides answers, sometimes from people. And context."

Social Messaging: Twitter is in that sense not a classical search engine but an intelligent anwering machine (no wonder that there are a lot of talks about Google likely to buy Twitter). An application could be for example call centers, in which employees spend up to 50% of their time doing searches on Google. How better it would be if replies to a question would be based on your context. So, we are moving from an asynchronous search to a near-time search. The consequence will be that ideas spread like wildfire and and organizations will eventually be able to move faster.

Ross also mentions that people in organizations who use social networks more than others, rise faster, and what is important for organizations: people working together to solve their own problems need less resources. Good stuff.

In parallel, I found an interesting discussion on how Europeans think about the rumors that Google might buy Twitter. I am just going to reply on that.
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