Enterprise Software Design Blog

Enterprise 2.0 – Is it just about collaboration?

Posted on: January 16, 2010

What is Enterprise 2.0?

Enterprise 2.0 is the latest buzzword that is generating interest in corporate IT circles and software vendor’s boardroom. The word was coined by Harvard university professor and as I understand this is about bringing Web 2.0 collaboration tools and techniques such as social media, wikis, blogs, twitter etc., in to corporate computing environment. Forrester predicts the market will grow to 4 billion US$ and will revolutionize the collaboration within the enterprises.

Enterprise 2.0 – Problem

While Enterprise 2.0 is great idea and has the potential to increase efficiency of corporate collaboration, it only focuses on collaboration between knowledge workers. The benefits Web 2.0 of should reach the entire spectrum of corporate users such as sales, finance, administration and HR. Also, the users will not use it just for the sake of better collaboration unless or until it makes them more efficient and helps them complete their tasks quickly and efficiently. As enterprise software users, we already use quite a lot of applications  in our day-to-day operation and having to use couple of more tools just for collaboration is not going to easy. The unique feature of online social media applications such as FaceBook and MySpace is provides better way (or incremental innovation over email/chat) way for people to share and collaborate. These applications allow the users to share an object of interest with their friends and then collaborate among them. It the object of interest could either be a picture, a video (uploaded in YouTube), a blog post or just a status message. Since this is an object of interest for many people, they get attracted to it and start posting comments on it. This way the collaboration begins and you people have meaning discussion around it.

Enterprise 2.0 – What it should be

Enterprise 2.0 should ideally be a platform through which all enterprise applications are offered. The application will be the object of interest for the corporate users and they will collaborate among selves to solve problems and complete their task. For example, an employee will typically use a HR self service type of an application to apply leave. If the leave application is rejected, then he will connect with manager. The leave application is the object of interest and entire process of applying for a leave, approval/rejection flow and subsequent communication should be offered within on top of Enterprise 2.0 platform. The object of interest should not be restricted to just one application. It should cover entire gamut of application from HR self service, to expense systems to complex application such as CRM/ERP and analytics. This provides a consistency in interaction with every enterprise application increase adoption of not only the Enterprise 2.0 platform but other applications as well. (Though there are technical challenges, Enterprise 2.0 needs to overcome this to succeed in enterprise environments).

To illustrate with an example, take a look at the screen shot below. This is how a typical Enterprise 2.0 platform home page should look like (Heavily inspired from Facebook and Orkut).  On the right hand side, it displays all the application that every employee will use to access information and complete a task. This includes benefits administration, payroll application and time card application. It also allows the user to add other applications that enterprise provides that they may need to use such as document management, knowledge base and CRM Portal. On the left hand side, the application displays the names of peers and managers. The user can add other employees and group them as shown.

On the center, application displays live updates. As you can see, it tells the user that one of his direct reports, Bruce Johnson has submitted an expense report for approval. Jene has completed a design document and she is waiting for him to review it and his very own leave application is approved by his manager. If you observe carefully these are three different applications (and possibly from three different software vendors) i.e.. expense management system, document management system and time card application. All these three are provided within one single Enterprise 2.0 platform and the user can seamlessly move between these applications. The e is no need for user need not switch from one application to another, nor view different applications with different user experience and then complete their task.

The application allows user to see the details of the expense embedded within it (by clicking ‘Show More’). The user sees that Bruce has only entered expense for a day and he wants all the expense as one single report. So user clicks on the ‘Ask details’ button and enters the comment as shown. Bruce sees the same comment when he logs in to the Enterprise 2.0 tool as a live update and he will respond to it in a similar way. The user didn’t use different application and mediums (i.e. email, chat or phone) for collaboration.

1 Response to "Enterprise 2.0 – Is it just about collaboration?"

Good one

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