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Jun 10 2008   12:16PM GMT

What is enterprise 2.0? Cloud computing proponents mix with social software vendors in Boston.

GuyPardon Guy Pardon Profile: GuyPardon

The question of creating an agreed upon definition for enterprise 2.0 continues to come up here on the Boston waterfront, as hundreds of software executives, CIOs, software vendors, media and curious technologists mix and explore the latest in enterprise collaboration technologies at Enterprise 2.0. Zack Church and I collaborated last month to formulate this:

Enterprise 2.0 is the strategic integration of Web 2.0 technologies into an enterprise’s intranet, extranet and business processes. Enterprise 2.0 implementations generally use a combination of social software and collaborative technologies like blogs, RSS, social bookmarking, social networking and wikis. Most enterprise 2.0 technologies, whether homegrown, free or purchased, emphasize employee, partner and consumer collaboration. Such technologies may be in-house or Web-based. Companies using YouTube for vlogging or a private Facebook group as a modified intranet, for instance, are implementing a form of enterprise 2.0.

The conference organizers have formulated the following definition, loosely based upon Harvard Business School professor Andrew McAffee’s definition for enterprise 2.0:

Enterprise 2.0 is the term for the technologies and business practices that liberate the workforce from the constraints of legacy communication and productivity tools like email. It provides business managers with access to the right information at the right time through a web of inter-connected applications, services and devices. Enterprise 2.0 makes accessible the collective intelligence of many, translating to a huge competitive advantage in the form of increased innovation, productivity and agility.

So what’s the story? Buzzword akin to Web 2.0 or something “real?”

In a session exploring the state of Enterprise 2.0, however, Dion Hinchliffe offered up one of the best, most succinct definitions to date that moves beyond the specifics to a more overarching purpose:

Enterprise/Web 2.0 is made up of “networked applications that explicitly leverage network effects.” — Tim O’Reilly.

In this case, a network effect is “When a good or service has more value the more that other people have it too.” (Wikipedia)

Here at the conference, over 60 different vendors are demonstrated different kinds of communication and productivity software that creates such network effects by helping workers to collaborate more easily, efficiently and socially. We’ll be posting videos, articles, interviews and other content over the next two days, as long as the wifi allows. Livestreaming has been balky, due to heavy network use, but you can check in on WhatIs.com’s live conference coverage of Enterprise 2.0 at uStream.com to see if we’re online. Check back here for more coverage on cloud computing, Dan Bricklin on SocialText’s new social spreadsheet or demonstrations of new social software like Newsgator’s Social Sites 2.0, a plugin that turns MSFT Sharepoint Server into a Facebook-like environment.

If you’re at the conference floor and would like to demonstrate your software or talk about enterprise 2.0 and social software, feel free to email me at ahoward@techtarget.com or send me a tweet at @digiphile on Twitter.

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