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Why the Enterprise 2.0 Vs Social Business Debate is Really Going On

Posted by on November 15, 2010

(Chess puzzle, white to move and mate in 2, can you figure it out?)

There’s been some interesting blog fodder as of late around whether or not the terms Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business are more applicable in describing this shift towards emergent collaborative tools being used within the enterprise.  Let’s start things off with a few links to re-cap what’s going on.  This was started by a post by Andrew McAfee who is of course biased since created the whole Enterprise 2.0 “thing.”

Social Business is Past Retirement Age– Andrew McAfee

Enterprise 2.0: The Prodigal Parent– Martijn Linssen

Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business: Who Cares?!– Larry Hawes

Enterprise 2.0 is beyond a crock. It’s dead– Dennis Howlett

Does any of this debate really matter?  No not really because at the end of the day very few people and companies in the world know what social business or enterprise 2.0 is and even fewer of them are actually calling it such.  But hey, it’s fun to talk about.  So why is this whole debate even going on?  Personally, I think it’s because of limitations.  Let me try to explain what I mean and hopefully it will make sense. When most people hear or talk about Enterprise 2.0 they think of the use of new and emergent collaboration tools INTERNALLY within the organization.  When people hear the term Social CRM they think of customer collaboration and engagement.

Social business on the other hand refers to the organization as a whole and can encompass pretty much anything, whether it be collaboration with employees, partners, and/or customers.  In fact, social business also encompasses Social CRM.  Why does this matter?  Well think about it.  If you’re in the “enterprise 2.0” or “social CRM” space do you want to be seen as being limited to one or the other or do you want people to think that you can offer a full range of products and services?  Chances are, the latter.

This is why vendors (and pretty much everyone else) are no longer calling themselves Enterprise 2.0 vendors because they have expanded their product offering to move from BEYOND just an internal or external platform to offering BOTH.  Does that make sense?  Basically what’s happening is vendors are seeing that there is more money to be made (as are consultants/vendors/and anyone else) by serving both areas, internal and external and they don’t want to be limited by a term which puts them into one or the other.  Calling yourself a “social business” provider means you can do anything you want as it pertains to social.  Why limit yourself to something when you don’t need to?  It’s akin to having a skeleton key that can open any door.

Simple right?

  • Jacob, I believe it's going to get worse before it gets better. Soon, every business process and corresponding tool will have the 'Social' moniker attached to it. Similar to how businesses added DOT COM to the end of their name in the late nineties to increase their valuations.

    • Jacob Morgan

      couldn't agree more man, I always say it's only a matter of time before we see the “social” toaster and vacuum cleaner

      • Actually, the social toaster and vacuum cleaner are indeed part of the opportunity. Stay tuned. We're just at the beginning of something very, very BIG. Don't it feel great to be early?

  • great post Jacob. You are right, the debate doesn't matter. Social Business is not a trend or just a discussion point. It's a forced evolution. Whether they/we/whowver call it that or not .. IT IS happening in just about every organization at differnet levels. Social CRM, Enterprise 2.0 whatever we want to call it are small pieces to the greater puzzle.

    • Jacob Morgan

      thank you sir! always good to hear from you, always a part of the bigger puzzle 🙂

  • Actually no,

    not quite that simple.

    you are just presenting one portion of the debate: what vendors and consultants and pundits and analysts are talking about, but are forgetting what those pesky users are talking about.

    you see, beyond our limited echo chamber where we all talk about labels and definitions that don't matter, we have organizations populated by very smart people who are looking at all this going on and are saying “i don't care what you call it, I need to work better in this changing world”.

    those people like the concept of social business for the reasons you explained above (among many other, most of them backed by real results in real implementations in the real world), and they are the ones that don't make it so simple to dismiss this whole thing just by saying that someone wants to make money. for someone to make money, another entity has to spend money – and the users are the ones spending.

    so, yeah, the labels don't matters much, but the money is being spent because the concept is there and the users realize that it makes sense for them to take on that. call it sally, pig-on-a-stick, social business or whatever you want to call it — that is not the issue. that only matters to people who cannot address the solution and are worried about explaining the problem.

    the not-so-simple answer to your questions, outside of the echo chamber, is that there is real change going on and real users putting up real money to understand it. and that, is not so simple and not so easy to explain.

    just a thought…

  • Anthony Nemelka

    I'm sensing widely divergent views on the current state of the Social Business Solutions market. One side suggests it’s still primarily driven by vendors and analysts re-positioning themselves in an obscure market, and other suggests the breadth of customer adoption has evolved the market toward one primarily focused on customer-driven issues like integration and standards.

    Michael Fauscette of IDC, who, like me, attended most of the E 2.0 conference sessions and met privately with most of the vendors at the conference, seems to support the latter view as do I. His excellent summary post is here:

    • Jacob Morgan

      Hey Anthony, First off great meeting you at E2.0. Yes there are very divergent views (on pretty much everything). Personally, the only side I really care about is the side that the clients are on because that's who I work with. Everything else just makes for a fun and interesting discussion. Thanks for the link to Mike's post!

  • Ba6

    • Jacob Morgan

      nope but close! actually it's QxC6 which leads to PxQ and then Ba6!!

  • Indeed. The phrase “social business” is all over the place…