Enterprise 2.0, version 2.0

by Andrew McAfee on May 27, 2006

I’m not satisfied with my earlier definition of Enterprise 2.0, so let’s propose a refinement (I’m sorry if this feels a bit pedantic, but clear constructs are important to academics):

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.

Social software enables people to rendezvous, connect or collaborate through computer-mediated communication and to form online communities. (Wikipedia’s definition).

Platforms are digital environments in which contributions and interactions are globally visible and persistent over time.

Emergent means that the software is freeform, and that it contains mechanisms to let the patterns and structure inherent in people’s interactions become visible over time.

Freeform means that the software is most or all of the following:

  • Optional
  • Free of up-front workflow
  • Egalitarian, or indifferent to formal organizational identities
  • Accepting of many types of data

Examples of Enterprise 2.0

Not examples of Enterprise 2.0

  • Wikipedia, YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, etc.  These are for individuals on the Web, not companies.  Some companies use sites like YouTube for viral and stealth marketing, but let’s explicitly put these activities outside our definition of Enterprise 2.0.
  • Most corporate Intranets today.  As discussed earlier, they’re not emergent.
  • Groupware and information portals.  Again, these tools don’t facilitate emergence, although this may be starting to change.  Groupware and portals also seem to be less freeform than the Web 2.0 technologies now starting to penetrate the firewall.
  • Email and ‘classic’ instant messaging, because transmissions aren’t globally visible or persistent.  Some messaging technologies do ensure that contributions are persistent.

How does this sound?  Is it the right definition?  Let us know.

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