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What's in a Name?

Posted by on June 29, 2011

In the process of writing my book on enterprise collaboration for McGraw Hill I noticed something interesting.  I was reviewing some of the chapters I had put together and realized that I have been using around half a dozen words to describe the concept or idea which I am writing about.  Normally I think definitions and terms don’t matter but in the context of a physical text based resource I do need to be consistent with what I call “this.”

The book is specifically looking at what decision makers and executives need to know about deploying these social and collaborative tools and strategies within their organizations…only internal.  I’m not discussing things such as phone, email, telepresence, and the like.  I’m specifically focusing on tools such as Jive, Sharepoint, Tibbr, Blogs, Wikis, etc that are being used within organizations.  Thus far I have used a combination of the following terms:

  • social business
  • enterprise 2.0
  • enterprise collaboration
  • emergent social software
  • social and collaborative tools
  • collaborative communication
  • new tools and strategies
  • collaboration
  • and perhaps a few others

I know it seems a bit silly right?  I’ve had this discussion with a few people and everyone seems to have their own ideas for what these terms mean to them.  I think at the end of the day I’m going to have write out and define my own version of one of those terms for the context of the book and stick to it.  There doesn’t seem to be a consensus for what to call the initiative and the direction that organizations are taking to use social and collaborative tools within their organizations.

What do you call it and why?  Open to ideas and recommendations.  I know my editor is going to hate me after he reads my draft and sees that I’m referring to one thing in 10 different ways!

  • I feel your pain. In my opinion, Microsoft has done the hard thinking on this with the SharePoint 2010 product, and grouped the social aspects under a heading that walks that line between technical, line-of-business, and executive camps, while avoiding the potentially threatening and over-politicized term “social” altogether. If it makes sense in the context of your book, perhaps consider the term “Community” to group these tools.

    •  great post and great comment! thanks..

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