Today we got the happy news that The Second Machine Age was named one of the best books of the year by Bloomberg. Their methodology for putting together their list was interesting: they just asked a lot of heavy hitters in finance, industry, and public affairs what their favorite books were.
I’m flattered to see what our book was among the most cited. Mohamed El-Erian, Dominic Barton, Jeff Sachs, Tim Adams, and and Pippa Malmgren all gave it a shout-out, which is a great feeling.
The Second Machine Age hit the bestseller lists, but it hasn’t been a runaway commercial hit. We’re very pleased with the sales, but there haven’t been millions of them (at least not yet, he wrote hopefully…).
If you can’t have millions of readers you’d at least like to have highly influential ones, and as the Bloomberg list indicates we do, I think. I’ve already dropped enough names for one post, so let me just say that I’ve been floored by the number of very senior and/or very smart people who have had good things to say about 2MA.
It’s said about the Velvet Underground that only a few thousand people bought their albums, but every one of them went out and started a band. If we and 2MA can have that same kind of influence — if we can inspire people to change how they’re running their companies, thinking about policy, educating their students, and so on — the book will have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.
Facebook’s recent announcement that it’s readying a version of its social software for workplaces got me thinking about Enterprise 2.0, a topic I used to think a great deal about. Five years ago I published a book with that title, arguing that enterprise social software platforms would be valuable tools for businesses.
The news from Facebook, along with rapid takeup of new tools like Slack, the continued success and growth of Salesforce’s Chatter and Yammer (now part of Microsoft), and evidence of a comeback at Jive, indicates that the business world might finally be coming around to Web-style communication and collaboration tools.
Why did it take so long? I can think of a few reasons. It’s hard to get the tools right — useful and simple software is viciously hard to make. Old habits die hard, and old managers die (or at least leave the workforce) slowly. The influx of ever-more Millennials has almost certainly helped, since they consider email antediluvian and traditional collaboration software a bad joke.
Whatever the causes, I’m happy to see evidence that appropriate digital technologies are finally appearing to help with the less structured, less formal work of the enterprise. It’s about time.
What do you think? Is Enterprise 2.0 finally here? If so, why now? Leave a comment, please, and let us know.