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The Consumer Web is Not the Same as the Enterprise

Posted by on July 31, 2012

We are taking a lot of our cues in enterprise collaboration from the consumer web.  Vendors replicate the features and UI of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and brands are also quick to adopt and deploy the concepts of social media within their organizations.  However, the consumer web and the enterprise are not the same thing.  I know some people are reading this thinking “duh!” but the reality is that most people are not really thinking about these differences and why they are important to collaboration in the workplace.  I wanted to bring a few of these differences to light.

Individual vs team based

The consumer web is designed for individual consumption, creation, and sharing of information on the web.  Sure you can create some groups and private discussion threads on some platforms but the bulk of the functionality and UI is designed for one person not for a team of people.  The enterprise is the exact opposite, we work in small teams which are part of larger teams which are managed by a person (or people) who then report to someone else.  The flow of information is not the same and the need for collaboration, communication, and coordination is far greater.

Free vs paid

We don’t get paid to use Twitter, Facebook, or any other of the social media platforms out there.  We use them because we want to and we have the freedom so shut them off or to turn them on.  Nobody is paying us anything and we don’t have anyone to answer to.  Again, the enterprise is the exact opposite mainly because we now throw money into the mix.  Organizations hire employees and pay them a salary to do their jobs.  I find it amazing how money changes things.  Now we have the issues of obligation and duty to use a particular technology and the challenges of learning new technologies at the risk of sacrificing temporary productivity.


On the consumer side trust isn’t crucial for engagement, we freely share and post information for the world to see without knowing who is reading and consuming that information.  This does not work in the enterprise as trust is crucial for any type of engagement or sharing of information.  In a corporate setting if you don’t trust your peers and co-workers then you will not share with them.  Corporate culture is a big factor here and is again something that is not quite applicable to the consumer web.

Legacy systems

This is a big one that we don’t need to worry about on the consumer side.  Individuals can find tools they want and use them without having to worry about how they integrate and fit into other legacy systems.  It’s just not a concern on the consumer side.  Legacy systems are a big concern for the enterprise.  In fact this is a topic of conversation that comes up in almost with almost every single client and prospect that Chess Media Group has.  Organizations are typically looking to simply while attempting to create the “front door” to the enterprise and this can’t be done by continuously adding more technologies without having them integrate.  Legacy systems are a big concern not just for IT professionals within organizations but also for all employees who have to use these tools, again not something that we need to worry about on the consumer side.

It’s quite apparent that even though we take a lot of our cues around enterprise collaboration from the consumer web that there are still plenty of differences between the two that we need to pay attention to and consider when developing collaboration strategies for the enterprise.


  • this is one reason why a startup or a company developing products need to focus on either being a consumer or an enterprise focused. Big differences between the two when designing and developing the product. Example are Yammer (enterprise) and Twitter (consumer)

    • Hi Abdallah,

      Couldn’t agree more, thanks for the comment.

  • nice and a helpful post.. like the concept of trust along with the free VS paid.. which is actually true in some or the other way.