Is Social Networking KM All Over Again?

Original article at Intelligent Enterprise

by Doug Henschen

June 12, 2008 – I didn’t attend this week’s Enterprise 2.0 Conference (E2C) to spend lots of time hearing about wikis, blogs, bookmarking, expertise discovery and so on (I focused instead on cloud computing). I think social networking technologies are reaching maturity, and now that the likes of IBM and (to a lesser extent) Microsoft and (to an even lesser extent) Oracle are onto the most proven and popular capabilities, this is looking like another market set for consolidation.

Yes, pioneers and best-of-breed players will continue to innovate, and, yes, adoption will continue to grow. As evidence, there were plenty of success-story presentations at E2C from blue-chip outfits ranging from the CIA and Sony to Pfizer and Wachovia. So my question is, what’s the next chapter?

In an attempt to look over the horizon, keynote speakers Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen […] talked about a new report entitled “Enterprise 2.0: Agile, Emergent & Integrated.” Among the report’s more startling stats were the top five responses (from among 441 survey participants) to the question, “Which of the following is closest to your organization’s perspective on Enterprise 2.0?”:

  1. The topic never comes up 27%
  2. A new approach to collaboration 24%
  3. Just Web 2.0 for the enterprise 11%
  4. A new approach that enables differentiation and competitive advantage 9%
  5. Just a marketing buzzword 9%

Wow, that hurts. The impediments to Enterprise 2.0 adoption include “lack of understanding,” “corporate culture,” and “lack of business case (ROI),” according to the report, but it largely dispels the popular notion that receptivity has something to do with age, seeing roughly equal enthusiasm among “Millennials,” “GenXers” and “Baby Boomers.”

So where is the love (and future) for all things social networking? Well, […]a sub-segment of survey participants […] called “Knowledge Management-Inclined” organizations[…] not surprisingly, this crowd is far more receptive to Enterprise 2.0 technologies, but I didn’t see any detail on what percentage of respondents fit this description.

Ross Mayfield, who followed Frappaolo and Keldsen on the stage, commented, “if we have to settle for KM-inclined companies, we’ll have a really small market.” Mayfield, the Co-founder and president of wiki vendor SocialText, seemed to read my mind when he said “it’s time to elevate the conversation about Enterprise 2.0,” but his rallying cry was “it’s time to focus less on technology and features and more on creating solutions.”

Having lived through the failed KM era, I find the cries for solutions and demonstrations of ROI all too familiar, foreboding less than mainstream potential. I do think we’ll see wikis, blogs, social bookmarking/tagging, expertise discovery and so on gaining adoption, but we’re going to steadily see this stuff embedded in larger collaboration platforms and portals. And as that happens, we won’t be talking about these things any more than we talk about email or IM today.

Original article at Intelligent Enterprise – Copyright 2008 United Business Media LLC

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