Enterprise 2.0

 

In my attempt to keep track of Web 2.0 trends, I came across a wide range of terms that have adopted the 2.0 series. There is Office 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Blog 2.0, News 2.0, RSS 2.0, Community 2.0, and guess what, I even found a blog titled Everything 2.0; I guess that’s the easiest way to put it!
I am not sure whether all these terms are in use officially or informally, but the clear indication is that all media types have a new implication and a new meaning to their users in the Web 2.0 era.

Out of these, Enterprise 2.0 is a term that I read in a McKinsey article illustrating a survey taken on the use of Web 2.0 by enterprises to run their businesses. The term was also found documented in Wikipedia.

We know that Web 2.0 is being widely used by individual users through applications like Facebook, eBay, Wikis, and social networking sites. Enterprise 2.0 is the usage of Web 2.0 applications in a company or corporate environment. That is, when individuals in a company use applications to share knowledge, information, ideas and expertise in a way that may benefit them in a professional and intellectual level, it also enhances their functioning in the company. This in turn helps the company leverage the benefits by building a competitive workforce to achieve its goals.

Does this strike a chord somewhere? We have heard and worked on something similar in our work environment, right? Yes, Knowledge Management. A simple contrast in this context will help understand the distinctive features of Web 2.0 from 1.0. KM is a classic example of a Web 1.0 practice in a company’s internal environment. KM involves imparting company practices, industry trends, processes, knowledge and expertise. This is done in a structured manner and the employees are only at the receiving end. So it is a “read only” application.

Enterprise 2.0 would a Web 2.0 version of KM where everybody participates. It is also termed as a “social software” which has no pre-determined structure. There will be sharing by everyone from all sides, in the form of RSS, Wikis, Blogs, Networking sites, Podcasts, etc. In this case, the company’s objective would be to bring about a culture of learning. Rather than imparting or training what the company knows and believes in, it is giving a chance to its employees to share their knowledge and opinions. This way, people get more involved, there is innovative thinking, zillions of ideas are thrown up, and each day employees learn at least a thing more than what they already know. Hence the word “sharing” in this context is being replaced by the buzzword “collaborate”.

 
Like any Web 2.0 application, for this concept to work well, there has to be maximum participation by employees. As we know, it is mainly the users and not just the technology that makes sites like Linkedin, Technorati or Amazon successful. So there has to be an effort from the management to not only make the interface attractive enough, but also to get employees involved. It is not an IT department responsibility; of course, they provide the support; but the initiative has to come from all business units. It is an enormous task and the results don’t come quick. It not only involves setting up of infrastructure and latest technology but also deciding the boundaries and limits.

In this context it is worth mentioning that apart from internal applications, Web 2.0 can also help in interacting with customers, by knowing what they want, how they want it and thereby fit the marketing strategy of a company. Similarly, it can help in the operations side as well, in terms of interacting with suppliers on a regular basis to ensure overall efficiency and effectiveness.

At the end of it all, when carried out well, Enterprise 2.0 promises to develop and instill a culture of learning in the organization. In a global economy with tremendous competition, only the fittest can survive; Enterprise and Web 2.0 incorporated in an organization can help breed the fittest.

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Check before you ‘Alt+S’

 

These days a lot of things are just a click away, your credit card payment, money transfer, a movie download, gifts to loved ones, some porn 🙂 and even some bad manners.
 

 

Remember how we spent all those classes in school learning how to write business letters? And remember how we struggled to memorize the letter format of from, to, date, dear sir, subject, body, salutation, name and designation? And no matter how well we learnt the formal letter format, our hands still trembled when it came to writing real letters to Principals, Teachers or job applications.

We were still confused – “do ‘from and date’ go to the right?” “Should I include ref: after subject?” “Should the subject be underlined?” “Does the salutation at the end come to the right or left?” “Do I say thanks or regards or thanks and regards?” “Are all these formats just fancy stuff they teach in school or do we really have to follow them?”

But we took them pretty seriously. For me, the worry of losing marks in an exam paid off in real life situations as I always had this habit of referring back to my textbooks before I wrote a formal letter, just to make sure!

I guess things changed quite a lot as we got introduced to the Internet and emails. With all the smileys, font colors and sizes, bolds and underlines, the letter writing act became a lot lighter, ‘kooler’! J Making spelling mistakes became a part of the style and lingo. Using ‘…’ instead of commas or semi colons became the in-thing.

No doubt emails are known for their speed, reliability and versatility, but are we forgetting that it is just a modern version of letter writing? Don’t we realize that formal letter writing is still needed for impressive business communication?

From what I see at work, not many companies are training their staff on email etiquette. Sometimes we fail to understand that what we communicate is a reflection of our feelings, and expressing everything we feel is not exactly the best way to do business. Because written communication is a risky affair; we are not sure if the receiver reads our bit the way we want him to. And emails and all the options that come with it, makes the process all the more tricky!

I know, we cannot be perfect, but we sure can learn a great deal from keeping note of the certain things that annoy us in emails we receive and the certain things we learn from annoyed receivers of our mails!

These are my top 7 annoying factors in a work mail –

1) Using capital letters in messages

2) Using red color fonts

3) Using multi-colored fonts

4) Adding “…..” as fillers

5) Very long subject sentences

6) Using too many abbreviations

7) Using high priority all the time

Even Scott Adams has put a good spin on email communications thru Dilbert. Check this out –

 

 

I know business schools lay stress on communication which involves emailing but I am not too sure if our high schools have updated this as a part of their written communication lessons. I think they should. Emailing has become such a common communication tool even for school goers that learning the Netiquette at an early age can help strengthen the basics to a great extent.

Here are a few references I found useful –

http://www.emailreplies.com/
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HA012054101033.aspx
So next time you hit the send button, pause for a moment and imagine yourself as the recipient. If you don’t get put off by it, chances are others wouldn’t either! Happy emailing!

Orkut Applications

 

 This post is more or less a continuation of the previous one, Web 2.0. It is about Orkut- another stunning example of the Web 2.0 revolution.

Orkut, as we all know is an online community which stimulates the “social animal” in a person. They define themselves, “orkut is an online community designed to make your social life more active and stimulating.”

Orkut strikes the right key with its users. You can find it as a minimized window on any 18-30 year old Indian’s desktop, at least once a day. Why so?

Orkut or any Web 2.0 product/company for that matter cannot be successful without constant user need perception, up-gradation and feedback. It is a never ending loop. There are so many portals providing similar services that differentiating becomes inevitable for sustenance.

When I first logged on to orkut in 2005, this is what it had –

Ø friends list and related features

Ø testimonials

Ø communities

Ø photos up to a certain limit

Ø ‘scrapping’ and messaging

Ø a simple search facility

Gradually they added these –

Ø videos

Ø photos up to any limit

Ø optional profile lock to keep away curious strangers

Ø recent updates from friends feature

Ø ‘ask friends’ feature for common messages

Ø blog, picasa incorporation feature

Ø integration with gmail (where ids from orkut are directly updated to one’s gmail address book

All these add-ons are certainly a result of the ‘loop’. They found that people needed to share more photos with their loved ones, so increased the photo limit; they understood that integrating the mail ids on orkut with gmail would reduce the effort to check/cross check mail ids each time; they recognized that by showing ones’ profile updates his friends can find out that he has read a new book or got married, found a new job or traveled to new places; they accepted that one needed his own privacy on a wide reaching public utility, one needed to feel free to express himself within his own boundaries!

What do I say? ‘That’s Google’ or ‘That’s the power of Web 2.0’?

The recent update from Orkut is called “Orkut applications”. It’s a huge step. Now one can share applications like games, music, videos, slideshows, books, jobs, and what not! You name it and they’ve got it!

Its like integrating all other Web 2.0 portal ideas in one, shelfaris, slide.coms, snapfishes, monsters, cricinfos, bollywood4us, again, you name it!!

Of course, in the process the users gain, but what’s in store for business?

Tim O’Reilly put it aptly,

“Web 2.0 is the understanding that the network is the platform and on the network as the platform, the rules for business are different. The cardinal rule is this one – Users add value. Figuring out how to build databases that get better when more people use them is actually the secret source of every Web 2.0 company.”

Need I say more?

Web 2.0

web 2.0

Recently I got introduced to this term Web 2.0, which was coined in 2004 by O’Reilly as a result of a brainstorming session. Evidently, Web 2.0 is a sequel to Web 1.0, but what is Web 1.0 in the first place?

Web 1.0 is the World Wide Web or Internet we have known in the 90s and early 2000s; the Web that was used to post information in the form of websites which were mostly used by companies, Governments and other special interest groups; hence almost entirely drawing a one-way traffic. Of course, there were e-mails and chat programs, but that is pretty much all that represented a two-way communication.
Over the years, developers and experts have evolved a more interactive version of the Internet; a two-way, rather, an all-way traffic that has increased participation, contribution and extraction by all users alike.

Ohhh yeah, welcome to Web 2.0! The World Wid(er) Web of googles, yahoos, picasas, blogs, wikis and ebays!

According to Tim O’Reilly –
“Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.”

The Web 2.0 buzz which is characterized by many other buzzwords like wikis, blogs, social-networking, open-source, open-content and file-sharing, is supported by a totally new generation of Internet based techniques and languages like Java, AJAX, Flash, etc.

My post is not about digging deep into its technicalities but I would like to focus on the business points of view.

Clearly, the realization that the Internet can be a great instrument to cater to business needs has really been the pushing force for this development. Businesses always need to move with time, technology and people; its a matter of survival. They have gone hand in hand with every revolution- the newspapers, the radio, the television and the mobile technology. Now, the arrival of the 21st has posed great opportunities to explore the latest revolution, the Web.

In the early years after Y2K, businesses realized that they could not only post their company information on the Web, but also use it to seek information from people viewing their sites. This in turn can help them channel the interest from people, to interact and get a lot of first hand information about matters that can be crucial to business decision-making.

Business existence depends entirely on the needs of its market. And if the Web can not just help reach out to its market but even widen it, why not use it to the fullest? The uses of Web 2.0 are wide and the list never seems to end – advertising, networking, partnering, broadcasting, researching and so and on. What more, now, visionaries are creating excellent business models around the Web itself!

Technology developers working for businesses are literally getting into the hearts of the users to attract them to using the Internet. ‘User friendliness’ defines everything they try to do. Other forms of media are being integrated with the Web and now, one can read a newspaper, listen to the radio, watch television or read books online. The result? People are gradually getting hooked onto the Web.

Web 2.0 has very wide implications to many businesses. Take the recruiting industry, for example. It started out with a system where a prospective candidate goes to a company website to get their HR generic id and sends and email with his resume. Then came career links in company sites that accepted form data from the candidate, enabled him to upload his resume and submit the data to the company’s database that could be internally be accessed by its hiring department. Slowly, business models were developed around an external recruiting firm that catered to needs of the companies as well as candidates and created a common platform for them to match their needs. While these are still widely popular, a model based on social/business networking and referrals is being exploited in the form of networking sites like LinkedIn, Ryze, Facebook, Orkut, etc. Newspaper employment ads are being posted on the Internet too and job/recruiting blogs are also featuring Government vacancies online. A whole lot of websites provide both free and paid services for career development resources. Can it get easier than this?

In short, Web 2.0 is characterized with vast and wide-reachable audience, unstoppable competition, enormous payback and endless scope for strategizing!
Will this sequel continue? We must wait and see!

References and must reads –

http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0

http://www.paulgraham.com/web20.html