Enterprise 2.0: Andrew McAfee keynote

The second keynote was by Andrew McAfee, the Harvard professor who originally coined the term “Enterprise 2.0” only a year ago, speaking on the state of that particular meme. He started off discussing awareness of the meme, which has really taken off in the past year. It involves the use of social software within enterprises, network effects that occur when you can gather contributions from anyone in the organization, and freeform authoring.

He touched on how categorization has moved from strict, professionally-created taxonomies to folksonomies, and the benefits that can result; for example, how the wild, wild west of the unorganized internet has become more categorized and structured over the past years, allowing it to be with library-like precision as required.

He touched briefly on the technology behind Enterprise 2.0, but didn’t have any particular insights in that area: enterprise needs, ease of use, yeah yeah.

He moved on to a discussion on communicating the results of Enterprise 2.0; he thinks that we’re doing a pretty mediocre job of this right now, with people tending to fall back on referring to the same Enterprise 2.0 success stories to try and convince executives to put up the cash to bring this into their organization. He claims that there’s not enough case studies or benchmarks, which is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem: it’s hard to get people to buy without the case studies, but you’re not going to have any successes to develop into case studies if someone doesn’t just take the leap and get started. This, of course, is not unique to Enterprise 2.0: the same happens with any new technology, particularly disruptive technology like Enterprise 2.0 that might threaten both IT and business executives.

McAfee wants to help create a repository of Enterprise 2.0 successes stories (from which he will undoubtedly write a best-selling book đŸ™‚ ), and challenged some vendors to step up and create some sort of wiki-like environment in order to house this.

He finished up by admitting how his own opinions of the value of social networks and the wisdom of the crowds has changed 180 degrees in the past year, from thinking that people who interact mostly online are a bit pathetic, and that the IQ of a crowd is around that of the dumbest person in it, to believing in the power of online social networking, blogging and the like, and recognizing that the collective wisdom of a crowd can be, with the right technology and environment, greater than that of the smartest person in the group.

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