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Article

How Economic Challenges Help Enterprise 2.0

I believe LinkedIn is pointing the direction to the future

Enterprise 2.0 is described by Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen as, "a system of web based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise." It is basically social networking for businesses. This article explores how the recent economic challenges are promoting the growth of Enterprise 2.0 in businesses.

The economic recession of 2008/2009 has changed the way companies operate. Over a year has passed since most large companies have frozen travel budgets or severely limited them. You read about this change in the financial results of large hotel chains that have seen their business models turned upside down as business travelers cease traveling. Companies are being forced by necessity to find new ways of working with their customers, business partners and sales prospects.

Sales strategies and methodologies are being challenged as never before. How do you establish personal relationships with your customers if you cannot travel to see them? How do you read body language and understand who is supportive at the table?  How do you take customers out to lunch and learn about internal politics and how things really work inside the procurement system? These challenges are not likely to go away anytime soon.

SAP recently announced that they plan to continue cutting their travel budgets as this report shows,SAP has pledged to cut its carbon footprint in half (currently 513,000t CO2) by 2020. Among other things, the company will focus on virtualization in the data center, and cut back on business travel."  The cut back in business travel has already been significant, so this statement seems to suggest these cuts will continue.  If  they do continue even after the economy improves, then this truly represents a significant change in culture and practice.

Enterprise 2.0 strategies are really about collaboration. Linkedin is an excellent example of an Enterprise 2.0 solution. Companies and individuals can promote themselves, their employees, promote job openings, announce career changes and describe projects they are working on, etc. People with similar interests can join special interest groups, engage in discussions and share news and job openings. I believe LinkedIn is pointing the direction to the future.

I wrote an article about SAP and LinkedIn earlier this year that explores a number of Enterprise 2.0 strategies that are being implemented by SAP. SAP Ventures, in fact, has invested in LinkedIn, and SAP AG has invested in and became a co-owner of an EDI Exchange called Crossgate that operates in a cloud computing environment. Crossgate has developed a very interesting model that enables all SAP users to subscribe to the EDI Exchange, and then find, share and reuse EDI/B2B connections. This is another powerful collaboration platform that fits right in with Enterprise 2.0 strategies.

LinkedIn provides insight into the status, qualifications of individuals. Crossgate provides an EDI/B2B collaboration platform that lets the community of SAP users work together. The key value propositions of both is to make communications and collaborations more efficient and less expensive.

Smart phones and other mobile devices with integrated GPS enable the mobile workforce to work closely and collaborate better with the central office and each other, even in remote and mobile environments.  Enterprise applications that utilize these technologies to collaborate better with their mobile workforce, customers and business partners are again demonstrating emerging Enterprise 2.0 strategies.

Video conferencing and online presentations are relatively low cost sales tools that are in many cases replacing airline flights and overnight stays at the Marriott.

Solutions like Google Wave are changing Enterprise 2.0 communications. Google Wave is a platform, product, and protocol for creating live, social communication documents that can be edited by multiple users in near real-time. Again, it is about remote and mobile collaboration.

The economy may not return to its prior state. The new economic realities seem to suggest we will be working with smaller budgets.  Budgets that encourage change and innovative means of working with our sales prospects, customers and business partners. The airlines, rental car agencies and hotel chains may suffer, but Enterprise 2.0 seems positioned to launch.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is an opinionated futurist, Principal Analyst at the Center for Digital Intelligence™, C4DIGI.com, emerging technologies analyst, and digital transformation and business strategy consultant. In the past 8 years he has taught workshops for large enterprises and government agencies in 18 different countries, and is a keynote speaker at conferences worldwide. He spent nearly 5 years working as a Senior Analyst at Cognizant (CTSH), and 2 years serving in Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work where he wrote many reports, hundreds of articles, interviewed technology experts, and produced videos on the future of digital technologies and their impact on industries. He has written articles published in The Guardian, wrote the Forward to SAP Press' book titled "Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP", published over 3,000 articles and was featured as thought leader and digital strategist in the Department of Defense's IQT intelligence journal. Kevin lectures and leads workshops, teaches and consults with companies and government agencies around the world to help develop digital transformation and business strategies. Visit his website at C4DIGI.com.

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setandbma 11/11/09 11:07:00 AM EST

There are still some perception problems for Enterprise 2.0 adoption -