Tripping over False Assumptions about Enterprise 2.0

ent2Forrester’s recent report, Global Enterprise Web 2.0 Market Forecast: 2007 To 2013(1), offers excellent insights into the enterprise adoption of Web 2.0 technologies but falls into the trap of entertaining assumptions that are becoming less true by the day. In this brief market comment, I will discuss and correct so that you can appreciate their findings more and put them into a different perspective.

Highlights of Forrester Findings

  • The Enterprise 2.0 market, defined as corporate spending on Web 2.0 technologies like social networking tools, mashups and RSS, will amount to $4.6 billion by 2013
  • IT will be the gatekeeper, it is wary of the tools’ consumer focus, and pureplays will have to fight to show their value
  • Forrester excludes services like Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and Netvibes from the enterprise 2.0 market because they are ad-supported and aimed at consumers
  • Enterprise vendors are successfully bolting on Web 2.0 front ends to their suites, sucking the energy out of the pureplays’ chances to make inroads
  • External spending will outpace internal, and customer-facing situations will reign supreme.

Flies in the Ointment

Long-in-the-tooth assumptions lurk here and muddle things up. For example:

  • The “inside” (enterprise) and the “outside” (consumer) are blurring, so the report’s reliance on the enterprise boundary paints a false sense of separation. For example, read about Serena Software’s front ending their enterprise intranet with Facebook. The convenient “enterprise IT” vs. “consumer” camps portrayed in the Forrester report become less useful each month.
  • The report discounts the importance of cross-boundary collaboration. It references IBM Lotus and Microsoft SharePoint tools as successfully bolting on wikis, blogs, RSS and social networking. True, I can vouch for IBM’s impressive offering as I covered the launch of their new Enterprise Social Network offering, and Microsoft is clearly improving their relevance as they always do. However, the report failed to point out that these tools are very limited in their ability to go cross-boundary. Maybe I’ve read too much John Hagel, but I also observe that maximum innovation takes place at the edges, the boundaries. These enterprise 2.0 tools are predictably focused on encouraging intra-enterprise collaboration and, as I wrote in Quick Take: Enterprise Social Networking Crystal Ball, they will deliver value but will leave much on the table.
  • The report takes too much of an “us and them” attitude toward “enterprise” vendors and pureplays. As I wrote in Web 2.0 Pureplays vs. Enterprise Vendors: A Real Battle?, CIOs will add the most value by adopting both, and they should key their adoption off their CMOs and CCOs (Chief Customer Officer).

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