E2.0 With FAME Will Come Obscurity




Last week the Enterprise 2.0 Conference was held right here in my hometown, Boston MA.  As usual, the E2.0 community was abuzz with Twitter (#e2conf).  But, now, with the show a happy memory, many of us attendees reflect more deeply than 140 characters allows, in our blog posts.  The blogosphere is ripe with conference coverage. Among them I recommend those from Sameer Patel, Jacob Morgan, Rawn and Ron Miller. I will refrain from sharing observations that are redundant to theirs – except in cases where I think redundancy will add to the power of the message.

So that said – here goes.  in keeping with tradition, I  have rolled-up my impression of the conference into an acronym.  This year the conference is characterized as

FAME

OK, to explain the acronym – lets start at the end;

E is for ENERGETIC

More so than ever before, I could not help but feel the energy level of the crowd (Yes crowd, this may have been the most popularly attended E2.0 conference yet), as the spilled out of sessions and milled around the hallways. MAybe it was all that fine Starbucks coffee that was being served – but I think not. Read on…

Now, back to the beginning;

F is for FUNDED

I came away with the impression that most of the attendees were not there for theoretical or introductory eduction – but practical insight on how to succeed with Enterprise 2.0.  Most seemed to be working on real and funded programs, (Which likely was the root of the aforementioned energy level).  I could not help but pick up on this during the various Q and A sessions and one-on-ones that I had.  Indeed, for the first time in 2 years I walked away with no less than 3 real leads – i.e. individuals seeking proposals for targeted consulting.

A is for APPLICATION-focused

The conference responded to the attendees’ focus on real-world issues with a nice mix of case studies, all focused on the leveraging of E2.0 functionality to specific business applications – many presentations in the form of real-world case studies.  My favorite was a group of three panelists all discussing how innovation was managed as a process within their respective organizations, partially based on collaborative software. Innovation Management was a popularly discussed business application at the conference, overall, including 2 of the keynotes.  The crowd was also coached several times by those pioneers of E2.0, the 2.0 Adoption Council members. Their experiences are always a conference highlight.

Lastly,

M is for MATURE

This is perhaps reflective of the other letters in the acronym.  Presentations were far more grounded in real-word examples, workshops were provided by industry veterans, and attendees came seeking practical advice to move funded project forward.  The market has matured.

Both of my presentations focused on implementation issues, each illustrated by real-world examples. The first looked at how culture impacts the implementation of E2.0. (Download slides)

My second presentation, based on a study done with the 2.0 Adoption Council, provided insights into deploying E2.0 in a controlled environment (in this case focusing on privacy issues in the European Union).

In the presentation I broadened the definition and scope of E2.0 (See slide 4) – positioning it within an integrated Enterprise Content Management (ECM) strategy.  (ECM – at least the way I define it.)

In the end, I would have to say that Maturity was the big take away for me this year. In fact,  as I was presenting  E2.0 and Privacy it struck me, and I stated, that I believe the success of the E2.0 show – characterized by the maturing of its focus and audience,  will be the demise of the show or at least the label Enterprise 2.0. Typical of many nascent technologies – they are couched in definitions and frameworks that position them as  business applications. I draw the analogy to imaging. Circa 1990 imaging was discussed as if it were a business application.  People spoke in phrases such as “we do imaging”;  “I am the manager of our imaging application” . It may seem odd to think of scanning technology as a business application,  as opposed to a way to create and share content within business applications – but I assure you that was the case.  Imaging too had a trade show built entirely around it – less we forget that AIIM stands for the Association for information and IMAGE management.

The focus, attitudes and energy surrounding E2.0 are changing.  I do think that the success of E2.0  will be the demise of the conference, as we know it.  But this is a good thing, and it is actually critical. In its nascent state the market focused on E2.0 as an application: “Does your organization have an E2.0 project, budget, leader/champion?”.   This will fade into obscurity as we realize you don’t “do E2.0”, . you leverage this genre of capabilities to facilitate and strengthen and redefine business applications.  This was perhaps foreshadowed in the subtext of this year’s conference title,  “Business Powered by Collaboration.”

I give the conference 2 – 3 years tops,  before it either fades into history, or morphs into something related – but bigger.  This is not a reflection on the show, but market maturity.  In fact once again, Steve Wylie and crew are to be congratulated for their skillful orchestration and attention to detail.  The show was a huge success, but with success will come obscurity (and likely something bigger and better.)

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