Last week I attended the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, and for me personally, it was marked by many firsts. It was the first time I did not keynote or hold a session. It was the first time I did not attend for the majority of the time, and, it was the first time I attended as a full-fledged member of the user community and not an analyst. The latter two "firsts" had an impact on my observations and how I will blog about the event.
Being a full-fledged member of the user community was fundamental in a changing perspective – so much so that I am going to save those reflections for another blog post. As for only spending a single day (to be honest, not even an entire day), I need to state as a disclaimer that the observations made here are based on my limited involvement.
Ok, so with all of that out of the way, on to my observatiosn for this year's conference. Those of you familiar with my past blogs on the E2.0 conference know that I like to roll-up my observations into an acronym – in the past “FAME”, ER , and CIT.
This year, in keeping with my new perspective but with a desire to stick with tradition, I have a quasi-acronym to offer. This year’s E2.0 conference was RIGHT ON.
Why quasi? Well, the first part “Right” is not an acronym, but a shout out to Steve Wylie and his team. This time they really got it “Right.” This is not commentary on the content per se, but the show logistics and the attendee community. Even despite a glitch in my registration, my time went smoothly from beginning to end. Despite a crowd, (the keynote rooms were PACKED), people flow was not an issue. It was easy to see and hear no matter where you were in the room. There was finally uninterrupted, reliable web access no matter where I was. (I always found it ironic that at an E2.0 show, access to the web was never guaranteed.) There was ample time and space for networking. Indeed, as always, a favorite part of my time at the conference was spent networking with colleagues and friends, among them Jacob Morgan (good luck with the book), Doug Cornelius, and of course, Dan Keldsen, who is very successfully carrying on the cause at Information Architected. Interestingly enough, I also networked live with other colleagues such as Claire Flanagan, Rawn Shah and Luis Suarez– but all through Twitter – how E2.0 is that of us huh? (The show was that big/crowded.)
But enough of that, what of “ON”?
O The O stands for “Old.” This should not be viewed as a bad thing. File this under “Oldie but goodie.” As “we” have been predicting for a few years now, E2.0 has come of age, and there is a market for it. The business issues that E2.0 was directed at – the same. The basic underlying technologies – the same. Many of the participating solution providers – the same. We were told that building the business case for E2.0 is the greatest challenge to deployment – yes we know. Heck, even the prolific use of Twitter throughout the show was “old”, but nonetheless effective and valuable. Based on some of the questions that attendees were asking, it was clear that the message still needs to be repeated, but for E2.0 veterans many of the messages were “old”.
The technology presentations, again to a veteran, were a bit old hat. For example, IBM talked about analytics/data that creates data, the emergence of knowledge in activity and the need for compliance. Yes we know. (But again, perhaps many in the audience needed to hear this.)
Among attendee/speakers, however, there was definitely something “new”. Although the basic components of their stories were “old”, I could not help be remain interested because there was a deeper level of experience being expressed. Many of the stories that practitioners shared were at a much deeper level of involvement than those from earlier conferences. There was less theory, talk of pilots and initial implementations, amongst practitioners.
Andrew McAfee of course spoke, but his talk was stuck far too much in theory for me. In fact, I point this out only because he once again offered commentary that I think is far to dangerous to let go unchallenged. He is afterall the coiner of the phrase Enterprise 2.0, and many listen to him for sage advice. The issue? Security and compliance. Once again, Andy stated that security and compliance are not issues to be too concerned with. This year he offered something along the lines of “I just don’t see it [the risk],”, using as an example, I do not see instances of employees using the platform to espouse their neo-nazi beliefs. Well, on that point, yes I would agree. But as I presented at last year’s confernce, if organziatiosn are goingto deploy E2.0 platforms in support of “real business content”, then sound corporate governance is simply required. Not to protect from the odd rantings of a neo-nazi employee, but to guard against coflicts of interest (as they may exist in law firms and investment firms) and the potential, albeit accidental, inappropriate sharing of content, even amongst one’s fellow employees. As pointed out in last year’s presentation, many of the members of the E2.0 Adoption Council (also heavy hitting practitioners) share my views. As evidenced by the fact that many speakers represented heavily regulated industries, (e.g. Deutsche Bank, Eli Lilly, NASA), there is a way to execute E2.0 in a regulated, risk adverse environment, but it is not wise to simply assume that there is no risk in open collaboration.
N And now onto “N”. N is for nimble, and here I address not the show, or its speakers, but the use of E2.0 technology itself. As I mentioned earlier, the case studies offered by end user presenters were more mature and deeper this year, and part of what set them apart was morphing business models, an ability for their organizations to affect change on a dime. I especially liked the keynote from Bryce Williams of Eli Lilly who shared how his organization, through the adoption of E2.0/collaborative platforms, underwent a reactionary period, emerging with new approaches to cross—team sharing and collaboration. Bryce’s presentation, similar to others, did not just point out (as we have in years past) that E2.0 is good for communities of practice (COPs), but offered concrete examples of how E2.0 can move and shape the COP and the business itself, in a very dynamic and nimble way. John Stepper of Deutsche Bank, spoke similarly, offering commentary on the fact that the time to move from theory is upon us. His talk was aptly labeled “Change the Work Stop Evangelizing and Start Doing.” jim gribb of Cisco (yes, I know, a solution provider) did a nice job illustrating how Org charts that were once static and can now be managed as “people charts”, dynamic networks that reflect the way work is actually being done, allowing communities to self-organize around issues and work, while nonetheless being managed and captured as organizational capital.
So for me, yes, “nimble” was one of the takeaways from this year’s conference, as an established benefit to this thing we call E2.0.
I’ll wrap this up with a favorite tweet that came across during the show “Don’t retweet others revolution, start your own.” At the risk of bringing up a very old E2.0 debate – it may not be a revolution – but nonetheless, stop watching and start doing, so many of us are.