An outsider’s thoughts on Enterprise 2.0 #e20 #e2conf

I’m returning from TechWeb’s latest Enterprise 2.0 conference in Santa Clara. I first attended the event last summer and was curious to see how the space has evolved over the past 18 months.

It’s evolved quite a bit.

The conference originally started as the Collaborative Technology Conference. The Enterprise 2.0 label has been in play since 2007. Currently, E2.0 insiders are debating the emergence of the term Social BusinessMcAfee, Linssen, Boyd, Howlett, Hawes. I call them insiders because they are all prominent voices in IT circles. Coincidentally, none of them were on site in Santa Clara this week.

Although my first job focused on ERP, I’ve operated in marketing, strategy, and management for most of my career. So I consider myself somewhat of an outsider to E2.0. Most of its participants hail from deep IT backgrounds. But what I heard this week on stage and in the halls were conversations about communities, experience, and relationships. The basis for these were certainly grounded in technology – Mindtouch, Socialcast, Jive, Sharepoint, et al. – but the focus has elevated to driving business results. These are conversations currently happening across all departments.

What else has changed? Budgets are coming back and big companies are gearing up for large transformation efforts. Consequently, the “can’t we all get along” days of social are long past and today’s competitors have gloves off, ready to battle for market supremacy. Must be the money.

Business has always been built on people, process, and technology. By definition, trends in work, society, and technology have always been around. It’s critical to recognize when convergence creates opportunities for value capture. For example, why Groupon now but not Mercata back then? Why Hulu not Quokka? Why sCRM not CRM? Why social networks not KM?

Business needs Enterprise 2.0. It needs social media marketing. It needs collaboration and cultural change. Social business provides a unified focus for these movements to work together.

Maybe it’s good to be an outsider. Either way, here’s what I recommend. Attend events in person to make connections and have live conversations – put next year’s E2.0 Boston and SXSWi on your calendar. Dachis Group will be running a series of invite-only Social Business Summits around the world next March as well. Joining the conversation and adding value is easy, as long as you stay focused on what’s going on at the ground level.

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