Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Enterprise 2.0 The Book by @amcafee, A Review

photo (1) Some time ago I said: Vacation First. I wanted to share my review of professor Andrew McAfee's book Enterprise 2.0 before I went on vacation. That didn't work out. I wish I could have written this review sooner, because the sooner you read this book the better. I'll tell you why.

Andrew McAfee coined the term 'enterprise 2.0' (in 2006) and has been one of the leading thinkers in the space of applying web 2.0 concepts and tools (or 'collaborative media' as McAfee likes to call them) to the workplace. This book summarizes his thinking over the years. Of course he's been blogging and speaking about this topic. So I was wondering if this book would bring me new insights. Well it did. And to me this is why I love books. You know thinking about the topic you're reading about in a book won't stop as soon as the book has been published. But a book does give you a summary of past thinking and concepts for future thinking. And all that in a limited amount of pages (instead of the endless amount of Internet pages...).

I like the way the book starts. It could have started by describing the new social tools and their underlying concepts. But it doesn't. Chapter 2 starts with several real-life cases we can all relate to. These cases make us reflect on information sharing and gathering problems in organizations. How can be solve them? What is the real underlying issue?

The next chapter goes on to explain the big shift. Is Web 2.0 really a paradigm shift or is it an incremental change? Or even just a hype? And how does this shift relate to businesses? Will it have effect only on the Internet or will it also change the way we do business?

Only then does McAfee go back to the issues mentioned in chapter 2. This interesting chapter explains the research on 'tie strength', pointing to Granovetter's work a.o. (which you should read as well!). Subsequently McAfee picks up every case of ch. 2 and shows how Enterprise 2.0 concepts and tools addresses the needs, whereas 1.0 solutions couldn't do the trick. I think this chapter will be an 'Aha moment' for many readers, definitely for those that are new to these concepts.

This book contains information for people in different stages of understanding and implementing Enterprise 2.0. The book describes 'technologies and technology based communities' like blogs, Facebook, etc. For many there is nothing new here. But what I like about the book is McAfee's honesty. McAfee describes how he got interested in Web 2.0 and how his thinking about Enterprise 2.0 started. He didn't 'get it' from the start, but slowly and steadily started to understand and research it. I think this applies to most people in this space. Almost none can say: I understood it from the start. Most experts in this field started out as sceptics. But then made the leap and started blogging, for instance, and by using social media started to understand and be excited about them. This fact is inspiring to all who just learned about Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0. It will hopefully get them started more quickly.

This also relates to one of the last chapters of the book: Red Herrings and Long Hauls. Many think Enterprise 2.0 is an instant success. You just set up a (micro)blog and your organization will change and speed up dramatically. McAfee warns us for this and clearly shows we should organize for the long haul. I think this also underlines the need for management and strategic choices to reap the long term benefits of Enterprise 2.0. Enterprise 2.0 requires deep changes in thinking about organizations, management, employees (users) and tools. Take time to help the organization understand these new concepts and tools.

Furthermore he also points to interesting research telling us that new tools have to be 10 times better than the tools we're using for them to be adopted. So, how much better is microblogging than email? Patience is necessary. Evangelizing, demonstrating, training and explaining as well.

This chapter also addresses the main obstacles (red herrings) to Enterprise 2.0 adoption. One topic I'd like to mention here is McAfee's research shows that "most people know how to act professionally in job-related environments, including digital ones". And therefore he has hardly seen Enterprise 2.0 adoption lead to security breaches like employees sharing IP sensitive information. He also points to the CIA using Enterprise 2.0 concepts and tools. They concluded "that the benefits of better and wider sharing of intelligence information outweigh the risks."

I love the way McAfee advises us to work on the adoption of Enterprise 2.0 concepts and tools. He starts out by saying we should connect with believers. Employees already convinced of the importance of social media and their use for organizations. Have them help educate and evangelize. Another important point he makes is to connect to the existing tool set. We use email a lot. So start there.

This book definitely calls for a follow-up! Topics for the next book could be about the following:

  1. There's lots of discussion about how the social tools relate to formal business and information processes. How this can be done and companies are actually doing it, is a great topic to systematically write down in a book. This would extend what McAfee says about 'in the flow' and 'above the flow' on page 184.
  2. There's some debate about what comes after Web 2.0. O'Reilly and Battelle call it 'Web Squared'. What does this mean for Enterprise 2.0? What would Enterprise Squared be? Or is it already there? Lots of thinking is being done on this topic as well. Again, this thinking could be summarized in a book as well.

This is not a complete summary. I picked out things I found very interesting. Just to show you I really enjoyed reading this book. I have advised many to read this book and hope this review will get you to do so as well.

Thank you for writing this book and sharing your insights, Andrew McAfee!

Note: This review has also been posted on Amazon in the review section of the book.

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