From Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 to Management 2.0
By the middle of the 1990s, technologies appeared that could support at least some of these claims. The Internet and commercial enterprise systems such as ERP made the dream of cross-functional applications based around business processes a reality for many companies. These applications let general managers deploy redesigned workflows, specify interdependencies, and allocate decision rights across their organizations. They let managers, in other words, impose IT's complements across arbitrarily large footprints.
More recently, Enterprise 2.0 technologies have come on line to offer almost precisely the opposite capability. These tools let the same complements emerge over time, instead of imposing them up front. Many questions remain about both classes of technology, but one thing is clear: Both of them operate primarily at the level of the organization, not the level of the single task or process. Because of this, general managers are their most natural constituency—the group of knowledge workers who will be most influential, and most influenced.
So, as a result of some relatively recent additions to the toolkit of corporate IT, general managers can be added to the list of knowledge workers who have very powerful digital tools at their disposal, and who need to learn how to use them well.
Figure 2: Teamwork, Project Management 2.0 style
VoIP for SOA: Giving Voice to Enterprise 2.0 Web Services via AJAX
SOA and Enterprise 2.0 have a very common goal, in that the purpose of both is to detach applications from underlying technology, whether it's on the back-end system or the front-end interface. In this instance, desktops are an enterprise's biggest expense and biggest management headache. By moving services out to the cloud, Enterprise 2.0 promises to liberate companies and end-users from the constant and expensive upgrade cycle for both hardware and software.
Competitive advantage can come, in some environments, from harnessing the power of VoIP and SOA to evolve existing applications into rich Enterprise 2.0 Web services that enhance collaboration, employee productivity and the customer experience.
For example, AJAX developers can use WSDLs to embed granular telephony functionality into their business applications, processes, web services, and wikis—independent of the existing telephony infrastructure and without computer telephony integration (CTI) expertise.
In my view, the barriers to the adoption of Enterprise 2.0 are as much behavioral as much as they are technological.
Executives, long used to ruling from the top of the corporate hierarchy, will have to learn a new skill: humility. "Companies that are extremely hierarchical have trouble adapting," Tim O'Reilly, CEO of tech book publisher O'Reilly Media, which runs the annual Web 2.0 Conference, has said. "They'll be outperformed by companies that don't work that way. Ultimately, taking full advantage of Web 2.0 may require—get ready—Management 2.0."
Corporate America won't be transformed by Enterprise 2.0 over the next five years, but there will be some companies that will use it successfully and profit from its use.
A final word from Professor Andrew P. McAfee of Harvard Business School, a leading proponent of Enterprise 2.0: "I think it has the potential to be a game changer. Being honest, we have to admit that it's still early in this trend. We don't know how easy it's going to be to deploy these technologies. We don't know how deeply they are going to penetrate organizations. We're not exactly clear on the magnitude of the benefit."
Appendix A: Web Evolution
Web 1.0: Connected Information
- Information delivered as linked Web Pages
- Enabled by HTTP, HTML, Browsers
- Transformed how we accessed information
Web 1.5: Connected Applications
- Service Oriented Architecture
- Enabled by XML, SOAP, WSDL, Web services
- Transforming how we design & use applications
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