Enterprise 2.0, Finally?

by Andrew McAfee on November 20, 2014

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.


A while back I set up autopayment on the Citi credit card I used for business expenses, and it’s been working fine. Recently, however, I ran up so many travel expenses in a month that I hit my credit limit (the clearest sign yet that I’ve been on the road too much). So in order to keep further charges from being declined, I went to the Citi credit cards site to make a manual payment.

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I wanted to use the same bank account for this manual payment that I use for my automatic one. But I couldn’t see how to do that, even after looking around the site for a while. The ‘MAKE A PAYMENT’ button was prominent enough, but clicking on it didn’t take me to a page where I could see and select the bank account I use for autopay. Instead, it took me to a form I’d use to enter bank account information from scratch.

This didn’t seem right, but I couldn’t see what else I could do to get to my autopay information. So I launched a chat window and started a conversation with Ryan. Who was very professional and as helpful as he could be. Which was not at all.

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At this point I got curious.

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And here the runaround began…

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I probably should have let Ryan off the hook at this point — after all, he wasn’t responsible for Citi’s user experience, but I didn’t let it go:

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At some point, Ryan / Citi finally offered a justification. It was that old standby, security:

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That didn’t make a lot of sense to me

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While this interaction was taking place, I went to the site of the credit card I use for personal expenses. That one’s also paid automatically. And when I clicked on the ‘make a payment’ button there, it immediately gave me the option to use my autopay bank account to make that manual payment.

As if they could sense what I was doing, Ryan / Citi then pivoted to a different explanation:

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I was fascinated by this interaction and ready to keep it going to see what they’d trot out next, but Ryan / Citi threw in the towel:

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As I say, I felt bad for Ryan throughout. He was being asked to defend a lazy and thoughtless Web design that he had no role in creating. I only kept the conversation going because I was interested to see what justifications the company would trot out for making its customers do unnecessary busywork.

Ryan, I’m sorry I kept the chat going so long. Citi, I think you owe me and your other customers an apology. And probably Ryan, too.




This Saturday: The Glass Cage Match at the Boston Book Festival

October 20, 2014

I’ve been involved with the Boston Book Festival since Deborah Porter founded it in 2009, and it’s become one of my favorite events of the year. And since I had a for-real mainstream published book come out this year (as opposed to a self-published glorified pamphlet) I get to participate this year as a full-fledged […]

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Business Book of the Year? Maybe. Public Talk Next Week? Definitely.

September 26, 2014

Yesterday we got the good news that The Second Machine Age had been shortlisted for the FT and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award. Erik and I are floored and very flattered, and looking forward to the award dinner in London in November. I’m pretty sure we’ll watch Thomas Piketty another author hoist the trophy, […]

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Technology Spending Is On Its Way Down. Or It Isn’t. Or It Doesn’t Matter.

September 3, 2014

My MIT colleague David Autor delivered a wonderful paper at the recent Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium about American job and wage patterns in recent decades, and their link to the computerization of the economy. I’ll say more later about his paper, which was one of the highlights of the event for me (sighting this […]

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MIT’s Second Machine Age Conference in September: Sign up Now

August 21, 2014

I am sorry to brag, but this really is an all-star lineup. If you’re at all interested in technological progress and its implications for our businesses, economies, and societies, you should attend the 2014 Second Machine Age conference. It’s being held on September 10 and 11 at the gorgeous MIT Media Lab building, and organized […]

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The Clearest Trend in the American Workforce Is Not an Encouraging One

August 14, 2014

It’s been a while since I posted data on US employment trends, so here’s a chart created with FRED’s snazzy new graphing interface. It shows the employment rate (in other words, 100 – the standard unemployment rate) in blue, the employment-to-population ratio (the % of working-age people with work) in green, and the labor force […]

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When Using Your Smartphone Can Be the Best Thing for Your Mental Health

August 7, 2014

My last post here took on Zeynep Tufekci and, by extension, others who believe the current trend of using robots and other forms of advanced technology for caregiving is, as she put it, “an abdication of a desire to remain human, to be connected to each other through care, and to take care of each other.”  I […]

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Even If Grandma Embraces Her Robot, Should We Fear It?

July 29, 2014

Zeynep Tufekci‘s recent piece “Failing the Third Machine Age: When Robots Come for Grandma” has been getting some attention. It’s a polemic against the prospect of using advanced technologies to provide elder care, embedded within a larger diatribe about technological progress, automation, and capitalism. I don’t want to take on her big argument here. If you […]

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When Regulators Attack: Cambridge and Uber

June 19, 2014

I’m on the brink of making a big real estate commitment in Cambridge, the idiosyncratic New England city I’ve called home since 1994. But a set of proposed regulations discussed at a License Commission meeting last night are so bad and so dumb they’re causing me to rethink whether or not I really want to live […]

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