Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Who has the answer ....

I was recently asked for "answers" on how to implement web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0. I, like many others, can hazard a guess to a sensible course of action depending upon the company, but at this moment in time there are no answers merely informed guesses or what is commonly called recommendations.

Whilst web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0 are not new fields, the technology having been used in commercial settings for many years now, it is still emergent.

What this means, is that we are still learning. This is particularly true when it comes to enterprise 2.0 because you're dealing with a complex network of people (which we barely understand), operating in an environment containing a mass of changing activities (which often we barely understand) into which we are introducing tools that expose new mechanisms of communication, collaboration, componentisation and participation (for which we barely understand the effect or the most suitable means of management).

Some activities are common and well defined and hence we can provide ideal mechanisms of control. However, unfortunately, those which are common and well defined are of declining strategic value due to their ubiquity in an industry. The hypothesis is that there exists an inverse relationship between the certainty about which we know something and its potential future value - a sort of uncertainty principle of future business value.

So genres of activities which are highly uncertain (such as web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0) have high potential future value. Unfortunately by the time that we have all the information, case studies, best practices and research to tell you the best way of achieving this value, the activity is ubiquitous and common and therefore has little.

I mention this because I have recently seen people touting themselves not only as subject matter experts in these field but also setting themselves up as gurus and offering answers.

As with the best snake oil traditions of the past, such claims are founded on weak evidence and you should be glad it is. When it comes to creating value, you need to be experimenting and anyone playing in these fields is just as likely to make the big break as anyone else.

No-one has all the answers to web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0 yet, which is why these subjects still matter.