LinkedIn and Enterprise 2.0: Definitions, Indicators and Case Studies

ent2Business leaders regularly ask me whether Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 are just hype or, if there is real value, where is it? What is the early evidence? As I predicted in January, 2008 is proving to be a pivotal year for Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0. This post will include a few definitions and several links to early results from enterprises in several industries. Moreover, it can help you appreciate the strategic element of adopting LinkedIn.


Web 2.0 refers to “software” that usually lives on the Web (doesn’t run on your machine) that leverages the network effect to encourage many-to-many communications. Think about social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, etc. They all encourage people to connect with each other (dive deeper here).

Enterprise 2.0 is arguably analogous to “e-business” in that it seeks to apply Web 2.0’s many-to-many concept to the enterprise, to encourage more lightweight and seamless collaboration using blogs, wikis, RSS, etc. in a corporate context. It offers an unusual opportunity to reduce risk and improve earnings and profits by increasing returns on process, human and knowledge capital. However, Enterprise 2.0 also confronts firms with changing assumptions, approaches and sensibilities. It represents an emergent, self-organizing network of relationships, so the formalized, restrictive cultures of many firms act as a significant barrier to adoption.

Dramatic Value Proposition

Companies in all geos, sizes and industries are on the verge of an innovation and collaboration crisis. Their processes and cultures were built for a time when business change was much slower, and competitors largely played by the same rules. For example, participants in IBM’s Global CEO Study 2006 cite an unsupportive culture and climate as a critical roadblock to achieving breakthrough levels of innovation. Many are concerned that the inability to motivate and support people who have good ideas can effectively derail a greater corporate focus on innovation. Innovation is mission-critical, it means unprecedented collaboration, and processes, cultures and technology are out of synch with that reality.

Enterprise 2.0 can serve as a catalyst for significant change. Here is the logic of the value proposition:

  1. Globalization is changing the rules by introducing competitors and customers with different rules
  2. Innovation is the core competency of the early 21st century
  3. Innovation means new thinking and adaptiveness
  4. Social networking and Web 2.0 empower individuals and allow them to form ad-hoc (emergent) groups
  5. Emergent Web 2.0 tribes can be viable partners for organizations (enterprises, governments, etc.)
  6. Empowered customers can help to make enterprises more competitive by taking a lead role in innovation

You read that right, customers will be a critical factor in your success. Ultimately, no organization will be able to generate the degree of innovation that it will need to remain competitive using internal resources. The only recourse will be to engage customers to help on their own time. To do this, organizations will have to share the glory and the control of their brands. This is how enterprises can achieve breakthrough adaptiveness and thrive in the increased market volatility they face.

The bottom line: the faster you can move to engage your customers and other stakeholders in emergent innovation, the better off you will be.

The Strategic Perspective for LinkedIn

You need to increase your ability to collaborate by engaging the right experts, inside and outside your walls. This is the ultimate context of LinkedIn, which enables emergent groups to form. LinkedIn is global and cross-boundary. As such, it can enable you to meet your immediate goals for finding new customers and servicing existing customers more easily, with more impact, at a lower cost. You can find more appropriate employees and partners more quickly, too. Strong, relevant immediate goals.

The strategic value lies in building processes and guiding your teams in emergent thinking as they are collaborating more often with a mixture of internal and external experts.

Thus far, LinkedIn has largely been embraced by individuals as a way to create a safety net for themselves. The Executive’s Guide to LinkedIn helps companies to understand and apply LinkedIn and other enterprise 2.0 tools for process innovation. As many of us saw during Web 1.0, innovations are picked up first by consumers in the B2C context. They experiment, endure some frustration at the early stage tools but end up changing their expectations for what is possible as they learn how to use the tools. They take these new expectations to the office and, bang, you have B2B demand.

This is happening in spades this year, when it is becoming expected for any executive in the game to have a solid LinkedIn presence. This expectation will increasingly pressure enterprises to professionalize their LinkedIn representations as well.

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1 comment to LinkedIn and Enterprise 2.0: Definitions, Indicators and Case Studies

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