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Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2009 – Recap

July 6, 2009

enterprise 2.0The Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston was June 22-25, 2009, and I’m now finally getting around to digesting all that happened that week.  All in all it was a great conference with lots of activity & lots of networking.  I attended as an exhibitor with Sun, continuing the launch efforts with SLX, which is continuing to gain awareness in the market.  (You can check out our recap of the conference on the SLX  video community blog).  I’ve attended the show the past four years and from a vendor perspective, this was the quietest of those years.  It’s probably safe to say it’s due to the economy, but we also did not have prime real estate on the show floor (note to self: sign up earlier next year).  Otherwise, from a non-vendor, social software/media enthusiast perspective, I thought it was a great show.  Here are some of my thoughts & some highlights:

  • The concept of Enterprise 2.0 is evolving– When I first attended Enterprise 2.0 a few years ago, there was a tremendous amount of excitement, as the newness of what it all meant was still in the forefront.  I remember the exuberant feeling of “the sky is the limit”.  A few years later, the feeling is still there, but not quite as strong.  I’d attribute this to an evolving understanding of how the technologies fit into the enterprise & a continued exploration of how it all drives real business value.  The sense I got among attendees was that they “get” the technology, but their challenge is how to drive adoption.  One of the key challenges is driving adoption in tandem with already-adopted and well-established technologies, such as email.     One of the better sessions I attended was “Strategies for Building Sustainable Online Communities” hosted by Oliver Marks with panelists Phil Karren from Novell, David Wormald from OpenText and Ted Hopton from UBM.   Ted is a community manager at UBM, and has led the effort to establish a community for employees of the company to network & improve knowledge exchange.  “You never meet anyone in your inbox,” he stated, when referring to how to position the value of Enterprise 2.0 technologies next to email.  Phil Karren from Novell also underscored the importance of “reducing unnecessary tooling” and giving “lots of hand-holding” to help drive adoption.  The big takeaway from this session & from the conference overall is the importance of pro-active community management & the importance of drawing upon the lessons of what has worked and hasn’t worked in other organizations– clearly an evolution from a few years ago when the focus was mainly on ‘the tools’.
  • The unique needs of the enterprise are still not at the forefront– While there was a lot of great discussion on social technologies in the enterprise for business collaboration, one of the things that struck me at the conference, was how little discussion there was around how social technologies are addressing the unique requirements of the enterprise, which are different from the more consumer-oriented web, namely security, reliability, compliance, etc..  In order for social technologies to take off in the enterprise, these issues need to be integrated as part of the core discussion.
  • Does collaboration, unified communications, community and social media all mean the same thing? The terms collaboration, unified communications (UC), community and social media were used interchangeably, but I’d argue that they don’t have the same meaning.  In particular, community and the use of social media by the enterprise is distinct from collaboration and unified communications.  Collaboration and UC focus on the workflow and business processes of the “knowledge worker” while community and social media focus on the relationships those same workers have with other employees, partners, and customers.  This could warrant a whole separate discussion (blog post for the future?), but it’s worth pointing out the difference since Enterprise 2.0 is a varied & diverse area, and often one ripe for confusion unless you are clear in the terms being used.
  • Web & community monitoring & ROI is hot, hot, hot–  Practically everyone had on their mind how to best measure & quantify investments being made in Enterprise 2.0.  Clearly, this is an evolving area (there is ton being written on this topic), and that could be seen at the conference.  Most of the content at the show focused on measuring consumer-oriented ‘web 2.0’ interaction, and less so on internal, employee/partner  ‘Enterprise 2.0’  interaction.   It would have been good to see more on the latter, given the focus of the conference.  Nonetheless, much of the ‘Web 2.0’ monitoring & ROI sessions had cross-applicable lessons to the enterprise.  I attended a great session by Alistair Croll of Bitcurrent on “Complete Web Monitoring” (check out his and Sean Power‘s book by the same name), which focused on web monitoring.  The session mainly focused on the needs to monitor & measure your brand & the needs of the marketer, while relaying concepts of measuring interaction & activity within a community.  Another event hit on the same chord (although unrelated to any official Enterprise 2.0 events), which was the “Rockstars of Social CRM” hosted by Chris Brogan and Radian6.  The event (in addition to being a good time to share drink & some good food with others) explored the new way of cultivating relationships with customers (rather than a focus on tools), and real experiences rather than quick, transactional sales.  In addition to a great panel discussion, Radian6 presented the practical side of the equation, demonstrating their new integration with Salesforce.com & plans for other CRM integrations, which help to measure & quantify Enterprise 2.0 interaction with customers.
  • The uptick of microblogging/Twitter’s place in the enterprise. To no surprise, lots of interest was focused on microblogging (especially Twitter) and it’s place in the enterprise.  It’s really taken off the past year, and can be seen by the large number of vendors offering “Twitter for the Enterprise” solutions (see Yammer, Brainpark, Socialtext).  While I think most individuals in the enterprise understand the value of microblogging (crowdsourcing, info sharing, intercommunication, etc.), it’s still not well-understood in the enterprise.  Realistically, for microblogging to gain traction in the enterprise, it will need to address the security concerns most organizations have, as well as be integrated as part of a larger community solution, including being part of the overall plan for community management and adoption.

I met some great people at the show who came from a variety of backgrounds– vendors, bloggers, analysts, media, community managers, social media strategists, among others.  The conversations are always the biggest value from any show.  Some of the folks I met and reconnected with and would recommend following:

  • Claire Flanagan- @cflanagan– provided great insight to what was happening at the show- doing great work at CSC community
  • Amit Kulkarni- @akulkarni– E20 entrprenuer and launch pad finalist with Manymoon- very interesting product
  • Jordan Frank- @jordanfrank– VP of Marketing at Traction Software- a friend & former partner from a past job- it was great to catch up with how they’ve evolved their product
  • Chris Newton- @cdnewt– CTO & Co-Founder of Radian6- doing some impressive things at Radian6- will be interesting to see how they evolve
  • Alistair Croll- @acroll– of Bitcurrent- insightful knowledge on web monitoring- (see above)

Others included @mwalsh, @paulroetzer, @marciamarcia, @dionhincliffe, @johncass,@stoweboyd, @olivermarks,@laurelatoreilly,@ddonlan,@roguru,@geophreyg,@guillaumecohen,@jhurwitz,@billtrippe, @pbrannigan, and of course, so many more —  just too many to document!

It was also great to meet everyone at the Sun-Veodia Tweetup at City Bar on Tuesday night-– thanks to all who attended.  Drop me a line if I haven’t connected with you already.

Until the next one…..

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2009 1:31 am

    Thanks, Gary, for the insight. This other recap at http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/future-of-work/enterprise-20-conference-aftermath-32715 agrees with you. Adoption and ROI were two big themes. You tell it like it is with your reflection on perhaps some early maturity issues where we haven’t quite found the killer app for ECM yet or still suffer from some blurring of concepts. Your security concerns are also very relevant.

  2. garylombardo permalink*
    July 7, 2009 12:51 pm

    Thanks, Glenn. I see that we hit on a lot of the same themes– good stuff on your blog. It’ll definitely be interesting to see the evolution of E20.

  3. July 7, 2009 4:57 pm

    Gary, really glad you were able to join us for the Rockstars event during e2.0. Very happy you enjoyed yourself and were able to get lots of value out of the content, demo and get-together aspect of the event.

    All the best.

    @davidalston
    Radian6

    • July 7, 2009 5:37 pm

      Thanks, David. It was a great event– I highly encourage you to do more of them!

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