Release the Enterprise 2!

by Andrew McAfee on July 13, 2009

Matthew Fraser recently wrote a blog post on the state and pace of the publishing industry, using as an example my book Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges, which will be published this fall by Harvard Business Press. Fraser mentions the Facebook group “The Urgency of NOW. Move it up, HBP,'” which was started by Susan Scrupski in an effort to speed up the book’s publication date. Susan and Michael Krigsman have also blogged about this issue.

I deeply appreciate the enthusiasm for the book, and the work done to accelerate its publication. I know how busy we all are, and the fact that some people took the time to investigate the publication timeline for my book and then report on it is amazing and gratifying to me. As is the fact that more than 150 people would take the trouble to join a Facebook group devoted solely to getting Enterprise 2.0 onto bookshelves quicker. So thanks, all — you’ve brightened my year.

I’d love to see it published tomorrow (heck, yesterday). But I’m also hugely ignorant about the best ways to publicize and otherwise support a mainstream business book (and even though Enterprise 2.0 has a technology focus, both HBP and I consider it to be a mainstream business book). I understand that it’s important to get it reviewed in newspapers and magazines, to line up interviews, to not flood bookstores with too many books at once from the same publisher, and so on. HBP knows how to do all these things much better than I do, so I have to give them a good deal of deference when they counsel patience and tell me the book will do better if it’s released at the right time instead of at the earliest possible opportunity.

HBP has been a great partner on this project. I’ve received excellent advice from my editors Brian Surette and Monica Jainschigg, and thanks to them the manuscript is much better than was the draft I submitted last September. People at the Press are aware that this is a timely book and topic, and have heard the voices encouraging them to publish it sooner rather than later. I am confident that they will publish it as soon as they feel they can give it the support it deserves.

Between now and the publication date the first chapter of the book, which describes its genesis, goals, and structure, is available for download. I’m also going to write an article about Enterprise 2.0 in Harvard Business Review this fall. While I’ve got you here, let me ask a question: what would you like to have covered in the article?  Which topics related to Enterprise 2.0 should it discuss? Leave a comment, please, and let us know — I’d like to crowdsource the article a bit. And if you have any questions or comments about the book, I’d love to hear them.

garyambrosino July 13, 2009 at 9:35 am

well, I think everyone's (including yours) impatience with the publication date just points out yet another strong desire for Enterprise 2.0 – – a changed publishing model. look at all the opportunity your publisher might be missing by holding off.

saqibali July 13, 2009 at 9:45 am

For the artikle:

“How NOT to implement e2.0″

A recent example that I saw involved a team lead who after switching to wiki style document management system, locked down the space completely to restrict any type of new content uploads, modifications etc. All the changes and uploads had to be sent to the team lead via email for posting. Why have a wiki at all? This scenario is more common than not.

Steven Walling July 13, 2009 at 12:09 pm

I’d like to know what’s emerged since you wrote the manuscript that you didn’t anticipate. What has surprised you about the development of E2.0 since you first sat down to write the book?

Peter Salvitti July 13, 2009 at 12:54 pm

I'd like to see some mention of how tagging taxonomies play into e2.0 systems/platforms. Clearly auto-tagging is a non-starter, yet some moderation mechanism is involved. Additionally, let's see some mention of how compliance (fin. svs, healthcare, et al) plays into how “open and collaborative” e2.0 can really be in established industries.

Kjetil Kristensen July 13, 2009 at 2:01 pm

I’d like to see some of the following: 1) productivity metrics for key collaborative processes, 2) recommendations on how to establish strong links between business objectives and collaborative tools / work practices that are fit for purpose, and 3) expectation management – how to set realistic expectations and successfully manage the transition from old to new, improved ways of working.

Mark Gould July 13, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Coincidentally, I was reading your original MIT Sloan article today, and have written about it on my blog. Doubtless a trackback will appear here in the fullness of time, but I have some comments on how the model has fared with the passage of time, which are worth highlighting here.

As I see it, the promise of Enterprise 2.0 is to blend the channel with the platform: to use the content of the communication channel to create (almost without users knowing it) a content-rich platform.

What interests me your original article is (a) how little has changed in the intervening three years (which slightly undermines the call to the Harvard Business Press to rush the book to press), and (b) which of the SLATES elements still persist as critical issues in organisations. Effective search will always be a challenge for organisational information bases — the algorithms that underpin Google are effectively unavailable, and so something else needs to be simulated. Tagging is still clearly at the heart of any worthwhile Enterprise 2.0 implementation, but it is not clear to me with experience that users understand the importance of this at the outset (or even at all). The bit that is often missing is “extensions” — I think few applications yet deliver the smartness that you described.

However, the real challenge is to work out the extent to which organisations have really blurred the channel/platform distinction by using Enterprise 2.0 tools. Two things suggest to me that this will not be a slow process: e-mail overload is still a significant complaint; and the 90-9-1 rule of participation inequality seems not to be significantly diluted inside the firewall.

Your thoughts on these (and related) issues in a new article would be very welcome.

BillOdell July 14, 2009 at 7:51 am

Well I hate to bring up a potentially tired topic, but I am very curious to hear your thoughts on ROI. It seems that there was a bit of a stir caused at the E2.0 conference in Boston about ROI that left many wondering if it was important at all. I think Stowe Body posited that nobody needed an ROI for the telephone. I wonder is that is indeed true from the practitioners perspective. Having been in enterprise software for over 20 years, I don't see a decline in the need for a business justification. Why would we think E2.0 is beyond that? Is this perhaps an affliction of general purpose social collaboration platforms versus social business applications with a defined purpose? Love to hear your thoughts.

Bonnie Cheuk July 16, 2009 at 4:38 am

I like to see some discussion on how good communication practice/procedures (which are critical in the physical space to allow genuine dialogue) should be considered in designing E2.0. In a recent paper I am writing, I argue that although Web2.0 or E2.0 seems to be a ‘breeze to use’ for users, there are communication/power related issues which the designers/commissioner of E2.0 need to carefully consider.

Since 24 May 2007, ERM (Envrionmental Resources Management), has been using E2.0 to facilitate global internal communication, staff engagement, staff seeking help/advice from one another, bringing in external client insights and we are experimenting new ideas every day. Some work better than others. I am happy to share E2.0 successes and mistakes. More info on

andreaback July 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm

What I would like to see covered:
– How to start a conversation on Enterprise 2.0 with tech-anxiety hung-up general managers
– How to design an individual, personal learning path for decision makers regarding 2.0, to enable them to instill the right collaboration behaviours and values into their corporate influence sphere
– Insights into collaboration maturity assessment for companies: Does this matter, and how?
– Enterprise 2.0 “Health Check”, cockpit of indicators that tell you as a business manager, is going into the wrong direction
– Is it time for a relaunch of what Davenport once started: The IWPC – The Information Worker Productivity Council as a hub for applied research? Or is this typo of collaboration between academia and practice an outdated model?
Looking forward to the article, and further discussions, Andrea Back, University St. Gallen, Switzerland

wilpep July 27, 2009 at 6:46 am

Like Bill Odell I would welcome your views on Enterprise 2.0 ROI.
I am currently completing a thesis on the use of Enterprise tools and wikis in particular in supply chains.
In the course of my research I came across Hutch Carpenters blog… on the subject. He refers to Denis Howletts blog on the amount of value that is tied up in supply chains.

I suspect that the article will be published after I have complete my thesis, but I imagine many researchers will be interested in any examples you may have of how enterprise 2.0 can realase some of the value that is tied up in supply chains

pos1235 July 28, 2009 at 7:04 pm

I think Kristensen and Gould are on the right path for article content. Leading an E2.0 strategy program for a large Fortune 50 retailer, our key issues would be about how to manage the transition from a centralized content management approach to a model that allows for more open publication and content creation. The compliance issues that was raised is also appropriate as there are some very real concerns about SEC and other public company regulations on what can and cannot be discussed on any source that could potentially be shared publicly. There will be a struggle for how to best get the business value of the collaboration and knowledge sharing without legal and other concerns getting in the way, as they do now. Finally, we are looking at the forming, storming, norming of any new technology usage cycle and trying to decide how much we can stand during the forming and storming phase as we work out new cultural roles in E2.0. So, content on how to best handle this phase would be worthwhile.

justingsouter July 30, 2009 at 2:51 am

I'd echo Kjetil that managing the change is a key topic.

I see three roles for Web / Enterprise 2.0:
– internal collaboration
– external marketing, PR, feedback etc.
– collaboration with customers / stakeholders

There seem to be a number of B2C case studies, but much less in the way of B2B stories. Web 2.0 is still revelant to B2B, but this is not clear enough to the average business person.

Also, how should organisations properly use the tools you already have? SharePoint has had a massive take-up, but my experience has been that most adopters a) don't know where to start [hence the need for a book], and b) are too frightened to let staff use the tools properly.

Which leads me on to my final point – which is that Enterprise 2.0 threatens the top-down model of organisation control. Managers will need to unlock the firewall and copy early adopters like IBM in having acceptable use policies for such tools, rather than seeing it all as a 'waste of time'.

wilpep July 31, 2009 at 4:15 am

Once other issue that might be of interest is if you are aware of any applications in the farming/agricultural community ? For example in a dairy co-op, a geographially dispersed interconnected community, with common interests and likelihood of local rivalries/family feuds

sunnylim August 2, 2009 at 8:00 pm

I encountered a variation of this. A team that I saw, some of the team members refused to use a wiki claiming that the wiki does not capture the context/conservation that is normally captured in emails.

Anyone encountered this before ?

saqibali August 3, 2009 at 11:30 am

Well I think there are two different scenarios here:

1) Wiki by itself does a very good job of maintaining the context of conversations, especially if you have threaded comments enabled for the wiki pages; but
2) If your users are subscribing to changes (edits) and comments via email, then maintaining the context of notification the emails is almost next to impossible because of their flat hierarchy.

sunnylim August 3, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Hi Saqibali,

Thanks for the response. The wiki in used in Confluence which I find so far to be a very good product other than the word processing capabilities like more wikis are behind MS word.

Agreed. I recommended the use of comments what is found on Confluence that caters to threaded comments. However, somehow some team mates are still tied to emails. How do we change the mindset of these people ?

gengstrand August 3, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Thanks for pointing this out. I downloaded and read that introduction chapter and am looking forward to reading the entire book. I hope that you don't mind but I quoted two sentences (yes, I appropriately attributed the short excerpts to you) in a recent blog of mine at

saqibali August 3, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Changing mindsets sometimes requires drastic measures. I would suggest that you ask your users to use a RSS reader and subscribe to “customized” Confluence RSS feed. A RSS reader will force them into the habit of visiting the wiki to read the comments/edits instead of viewing them in a traditional email. You will be cultivating a good habit by recommending RSS readers.

Just a thought.

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