Understanding Social Business (Was “Understanding Enterprise 2.0”)


One of the ways to improve the productivity of manufacturing and labor is to follow the principles of Frederick Taylor, by analyzing and optimizing the each of the individual tasks in the activity.  Improving the productivity and quality of knowledge work requires a different approach (Drucker, 1999).  Advanced economies have reduced their dependence on manufacturing and un-skilled labor based activities and is transitioning to those focused on knowledge and relationships.  These complex jobs are not likely to be replaced by automation, outsourcing, or streamlining (Johnson, Manyika, & Yee, 2005).  Knowing that the enterprise cannot infinitely shift or reduce costs, how can one increase the productivity of the knowledge worker?

Enterprise 2.0 is the result of the fusing of several distinct technologies into a broader technological movement.  The user-centered design principles of Web 2.0, connective elements of social networking sites and easy-to-use content creation tools can now be applied to existing knowledge management systems.  The sum of these systems adds a social context to knowledge management which facilitates the creation, discovery, sharing, and use of the organization’s knowledge.

Defining Characteristics

Andrew McAfee characterized Enterprise 2.0 as having SLATES, an acronym that represents six core components (2006).


Figure 2. SLATES (Hinchliffe, 2007).

McAfee stated the Enterprise 2.0 users should be able to search for information, create persistent links to said information, allow for ownership of content, provide for the ability to apply taxonomy to data for further characterization and organization, extend the use of information through data mining and examination of data access and use, and provision of signals of information use by a variety of means.




Figure 3. FLATNESS (Hinchliffe, 2007).

Hinchcliffe (2007) further refined McAfee’s conceptualization and added 4 additional components.  Enterprise 2.0 would also be free-form, network-oriented, social, and emergent.   Hinchcliffe asserted that content creation should be freeform and there should be no barriers to authorship.  The information should be network-oriented, facilititating easy discovery via links.  Content should be able to emerge, with the better contributions rising through prominence based on crowd ranking and relevance.  Lastly, content should be social, with participants able to maintain their own profile and be able to send content to others.

Triggering Event or Catalyst

The desire to implement E2.0 may originate from internal or external forces (Yehuda, 2009).  An ambitious, technology-interested person or group may champion the implementation of new technologies.  Users may already be using non-sanctioned technologies outside of the official corporate IT structure.  An analysis of the organization’s competition may reveal that they have already started implementing E2.0.

Business Drivers

The needs of organizations in the knowledge economy, user preference, and economic realities are driving adoption of Web 2.0 and social technologies.

Internal drivers within the organization include out-innovating the competition, increasing the speed of business, developing agility, resiliency, and sustainability, cultivating customer relationships, managing risk, efficient use of resources, and supporting the workforce.  Internal responses to events such as globalization, consolidations, mergers, out- and in-sourcing, the needs of partners and vendors also influence adoption (Tapscott, 2006).

Uses and Gratifications

Users reported different uses and gratifications for workplace use of social computing tools.  Social media users maintain strong ties to their peers (Smith, Lehman-Schlozman, Verba, & Brady, 2009).  Users of E2.0 in the workplace also cite the ability to locate expertise, develop new relationships, discover existing knowledge, and the sharing of information as reasons for use (Murray, 2009).  Users also cite networking, career development, and learning as gratifications (DiMicco J. M., Millen, Geyer, & Dugan, 2008).  Users additionally reported the ability to maintain awareness of their surroundings and the ability to solicit support for ideas and projects as motivations for participation (Skeels & Grudin, 2009).   Users can signal their own trustworthiness and build trust in others through online interactions (Ashkanasy & Kasper-Fuehrera, 2001).  These activities scale at the group or unit level to include reduced costs, increased openness and transparency of operations, increased participation due to ease-of-use, the ability to capture and leverage collective intelligence, and the opportunity for continuous technological improvement.

Enterprise 2.0 Analogs to Consumer Social Media

There are enterprise-appropriate analogs for all of the consumer social media tools (Hinchcliffe, 2009) discussed in Chapter 2.   Well-established vendors such as Oracle and IBM provide standalone and whole-suite products.  Microsoft‘s SharePoint is available as a remote service or for hosting on an organization’s server.  Vendors such as SAP, SalesForce, Sungard, and Blackboard also field products filling Enterprise 2.0 niches.  Newly established companies such as Yammer, Jive Software, SocialText, and others provided services and expertise.  Lastly, there is a rich open-source ecosystem with products encompassing much of the functionality of consumer offerings such as Wikimedia, Drupal, and WordPress.  Tools such as blogs, communities, wikis, social bookmarking, crowdsourcing utilities, and others exist within single software suites or as add-ons available to supplement core vendors such as Lotus Notes or Microsoft SharePoint.



SWOT Analysis of Enterprise 2.0

Figure 4. SWOT Analysis of Enterprise 2.0



  • Always on (<> time/place)
  • Consumerization of technology
  • Cheap processing, larger storage, smaller devices
  • Cultural Preference
  • Take advantage of network effects
  • Independent of time and place
  • Productivity and efficiency
  • Knowledge management
  • Cost-savings



  • Focus on tools
  • Participation Inequality
  • Digital Literacy
  • Vendor Space
  • Technology inertia
  • Information Overload
  • Ability to measure results
  • Determining and measuring ROI
  • Use of adoption as a success metric



  • Lower barrier for content creation
  • Search, recall, capture, reputation, authority
  • Data mining
  • Learning, Education, Development, Career, etc.
  • Innovation
  • Silo-bounding
  • Engagement
  • Collaboration
  • Increased inter-organizational trust



  • ‘Myths’ believed by IT and C-level executives
  • Security
  • Privacy
  • Governance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Loss of control






Enterprise 2.0 allows for an always-on workforce, independent of time and place.  This workforce will likely be familiar with the capacities, form, and function of the consumer analogs to Enterprise-grade technology.  This technology will be accessed and hosted on increasingly affordable and more capable devices, frequently already in the hands of consumers.  These individual, distributed activities can then work together towards common goals and generating impact through network effects.  These technologies allow for ready capture, use, and transfer of knowledge with increased efficiency at reduced costs (Fuchs-Kittowski, Klassen, Faust, & Einhaus, 2009)


An implementation that focuses solely on tools will fail to engage sufficient numbers of users.  A lack of understanding of the participation inequalities of these tools and the need to scale use will deny the implementer the inertia needed for wider adoption.  The vendor space is fragmented, creating obstacles in selected a vendor that meets the organization’s needs while still maintaining alignment and compatibility with the organization’s existing software and hardware as well as aligning with strategy and culture.  There is a very real danger that a flood of data can paralyze both users and systems.  Lastly, there are significant gaps in digital literacy in the workforce with no existing educational remedies in place.  All of the above make it difficult to accurately measure the impacts, returns, and costs of Enterprise 2.0 technology (Fuchs-Kittowski, et al., 2009).


Enterprise 2.0 technologies present the workforce with tools that are easy to access and use, allowing them to readily search, recall, capture, and reuse already-existing knowledge as well as creating new knowledge and contributing to organizational innovation.  This technology can also be used within different workplace functions like Human Resources or Learning and Development to increase engagement with favorable workplace outcomes such as decreased costs and increased employee satisfaction.  These technologies can support teams across the organization, bounding units and functions and allows for interactions outside the organization’s silos (Fuchs-Kittowski, et al., 2009).


The potential threats from Enterprise 2.0 technologies are severe.  More open systems and easily accessed information can be misused, threatening the organization’s reputation, stock valuation, intellectual property, or competitive advantage by leaking information.  Data aggregated while using the system may represents a privacy risks for employees; this same data may cause embarrassing nightmares during legal discovery proceedings, as data that previously might have occurred face-to-face over coffee may now reside within chat logs and emails.  Enterprise technology also has to hurdle over the preconceived notions of some regarding adherence to myths about workplace technology use (Fuchs-Kittowski, et al., 2009).