The Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston next week will be attended by an interesting mix of vendors, IT practitioners and analysts involved in making Web 2.0 technologies suitable for businesses. While Forrester estimated that the Enterprise 2.0 software market would reach $4.6 billion, it is still a maturing market, and here are three things I hope to see next week:
1) Good case studies of companies using Web 2.0 technologiesWhile it’s easy to talk about what social computing platforms can do anecdotally, the power of the tools are generally displayed best when a company shows a challenge they had and how social software helped them eliminate the problem.
2) What is the innovation gap between new and old?Microsoft and IBM have made their software offerings more social. Microsoft added social software to SharePoint, and IBM with its Lotus Connections. If these giants enter this space, what is keeping the bunch of start-up Enterprise 2.0 vendors (dozens of whom will be at the conference) in business? Innovation, plain and simple. Since they are smaller and more nimble, they can improve upon their products quickly. Analysts have attributed their pace of innovation as their biggest competitive advantage over the big guys, especially Microsoft, whose social software tools have been called less user-friendly. It’ll be interesting to see the gap and how big it is.
3) Measure of user adoption
We wrote an article questioning the viability of internal corporate social networks. We cited the competing for users’ time with consumer social networks as a key barrier, and a lack of integration with existing corporate data. There are plenty of interesting pieces of social software out there on the market, but the obvious point can never be overstated: it relies on the network effect. The more people who use it, the more valuable it becomes. I want to know how many people at these companies are using it when it becomes available to them.