I have a ton of notes to share about the Enterprise 2.0 conference. So I’ll break them down into multiple posts, each addressing a different aspect of the experience.
First a few words of gratitude. The conference was really well crafted and managed. Despite they typical annoyances that come up, (so many sessions to choose from, etc.) the overall experience was totally high-end. And the best part is that we never saw anyone sweat. I’m sure that took lots of hard work behind the scenes.
One impression that I took away from the conference is that the community of attendees are quite informed. I did not hear many newbie questions — in fact, I noticed that people in attendance were quite informed about the challenges and concepts. This meant that speakers were not “teaching” per se, but helping level-set, share, and facilitate the conversation. Many sessions were led by thought leaders — but had other thought leaders in the audience. Let me tell you — that’s cool! There were high quality conversations in the rooms and hallways everywhere.
This transltated to three initial findings for me:
- I was right on the money when I wrote about the long neck syndrome. We continue to gel as an industry and understand each other. That’s good, sort of. The problem is that we now have to address the rest of the workplace. We need to continue to focus on translating what we know into something that we can convey to others – using their terms and with respect to their motivators. If we only gel together, we’ll create a tribal language that no one else will be able to understand.
- We get frustrated when we hear “motherhood and apple-pie” lessons about E2.0. I would have screamed had I heard one more speaker or seen one more tweet telling me “it’s not about the tools, you know. It’s about culture.” Yes, we heard. We agree. But we are past this. Let’s now talk about the nature of effective culture change. Let’s get some Org-behaviorists in the community to help us. Not just the ones who just tell us “it’s about the culture” — but the geeky ones with real data, real insight, and specific advice we can take to understand what culture change really means.
- We need to further clarify what we mean when we say Enterprise 2.0. It started to get pretty slippery at times. I heard about many Web 2.0 concepts. But fewer Enterprise perspectives. Yes, they were there. And indeed those were the highlights of the show. But I’m not going out there and telling businesses that they should allow intranet access to Facebook and YouTube in order to make their workers more productive. Really now. We’re inspired by Web 2.0, but we have to bring it to the work context.
These are all closely related. We as a marketplace of vendors, analysts, consultants, clients, educators, and implementers (etc.) understand that the Internet has changed from the way it was used 10 years ago. Some of us remember that the Internet was social and communal 20 years ago. It got commercial 10 years ago. It’s now much better in terms of being social and communal again. It’s also a much more productive platform where we can build and find functionality – and use it easily. It has a much greater demographic reach. It has a growing presence on mobile devices too. These inspire changes in thinking, and that creates business opportunities. And we found that those companies who begin to leverage these business opportunities find success – and more interestingly, they transform parts of their own behaviors and business patterns in the process.
Let me share one example of what I mean. One of the better keynote addresses was the first one: Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Chief Technology Officer & Founding Partner of Blue State Digital who spoke about the lessons we can learn from the Obama campaign. Politics aside, the use of the social computing in this campaign was impressive and revolutionary to the political process. But the reason he was there was to tell this audience about the lessons they should learn and figure out how to apply them to their environments. E2.0 buyers are not raising money in their business by auctioning the artwork that their customers create out of their CEO’s photographs. Rather, we are looking to connect people, emotions, content, and work in effective, transparent, but well-managed environments. I would have loved to hear more about the tension between the grass-roots campaigners and the professionals. How did the professional campaign strategists and staff deal with the loss of control when they saw regular people creating their own campaign messages? Did the find ways to regain control? In other words — tell us about the “culture change” process that the Obama campaign had to accept internally as it shifted into a new strategy — one that changes the landscape of politics. How did Blue State Digital get in and sell a new vision? You know what I’m looking for here. The stuff that E2.0 folks can take home and use at work.
So that’s installment 1 of my post-conference thoughts. Next week I’ll talk about vendors. Who was there to talk, who was there to listen, and which I think have something worth looking at more closely.