Dialoguing with Mike Gotta of Burton Group on Enterprise 2.0

Mike Gotta posted today on his blog a review of our recent ESJ article. I encourage you to read the whole thing. He takes the approach of calling out 11 points and giving each of them a thumbs up or thumbs down and weighing in on them.

I like the approach because it fosters the conversation on unique portions of the article without getting bogged down. I will take some time here to engage in a conversation with Mike on some of the "thumbs down" points he raises. Because space was limited in the article, some points got short changed and should have had more explanation as Mike suggests. I'll remind readers that these are my personal thoughts and don't necessarily represent official Oracle positions.

Mike writes:

... The idea of shared business drivers is almost an anti-pattern between top-down/centralized goals of management and the more self-organizing, networked employee work model that E2.0 promises.
Self-organization presupposes an organizing principle. In business these manifest as working groups, teams, email distribution lists, etc. The shared business purpose for a working team is not the same as for the board of directors. Nevertheless the shared purposes and passions of the self-organized are givens that ought to be leveraged by an Enterprise 2.0 technology and implementation strategy.


Mike responds to our claim that "The Enterprise 2.0 platform combines all of the point features of Web 2.0 sites onto a single, business-enabled, context-aware system." by stating

McAfee equates platform to digital environments whereas Oracle implies that it is a single system (probably from Oracle - or from IBM or from Microsoft if those vendors had authored such an article).
Here I agree and disagree with his characterization. In the very next sentence we talk about the necessity of a modular architecture such that heterogenous capabilities can be snapped in as needed/wanted/desired. By the end of the article we've characterize the E20 platform as modular , a fabric , and an ecosystem incorporating "knowledge and process workers...colleagues, customers, systems, and information". We are purposely technology agnostic in the article to tacitly nod to the heterogeneity of E20 platforms. I think that, when the entire article is evaluated, McAfee's thoughts on platform are upheld.

I think that Mike's next thumbs down is right and wrong at the same time. He first quotes the article and then weighs in:

"employees to leverage technology to further the success of the company, not their personal social lives" - Ouch. Back to traditional big-company thinking....The idea of personal value to the employee as a way to encourage participation and contributions is key.
I actually think we're probably in agreement here but have different interpretations of "personal value". The point is that E2.0 is not about having a corporate Flickr where you can post your family vacation photos (maybe Mike thinks this would be OK). Rather it is having a place where "personal value" is measured in convenience, familiarity, efficiency and collaboration. At Oracle we have an internal social network application (think Facebook). We can connect with each other, give each other "kudos", blog, update our profile photo and form, join, and interact with groups (organic associations on topic X) etc. We each get a personal value out of this, but not because it is a business provided alternative to Facebook (it's only behind the firewall). The point is that behind the firewall alternatives to commercial/public Web 2.0 applications don't make sense unless they're furthering the business. Our Oracle social network is useful because I can communicate with, get ideas from, and ask questions of people outside of my Org Chain. Yes, we have groups for folks who "Have an iPhone?". But remember that the article is talking about the platform technology, not the policing of groups, posts, pictures etc. Most organizations already have policies in place governing "appropriateness" for all of these. If the platform helps me do a better job, build my "brand"/influence in the company or nets me kudos/ratings/thumbs up etc, it's a personal value even if my buddy from IBM can't participate with me there.

Mike's last concern is with this sentence in the article: "In all, Enterprise 2.0 is about bringing content to the employee in context so that attention will be kept on topic.". He states

I would agree that it is one facet but probably not what E2.0 "is about".
. Yep. agreed. It was unintentional overemphasis. But it should be viewed in the context of the rest of the article which includes these sentences in the conclusion with which Mike agrees: Ultimately, the goal of this participation is to tap into the energies and expertise of every individual and to deliver a synthesis of the good ideas. and This new emergent enterprise is what business and Enterprise 2.0 is all about.

Overall I appreciate the chance to further the conversation with Mike Gotta. I think that the points he raises are fair topics for discussion. Communicating conversationally, after all, is one of the hallmarks of Enterprise 2.0.

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