Friday, August 11, 2006

Spotting the Enterprise Web 2.0 stars

On the Internet it is possible to find information on traffic patterns and site popularity. We can use this information to identify the sites that are seeing spikes in traffic levels. I was thinking about this and applying the situation to the Enterprise. It struck me that this is an area where we will need to find new tools and techniques to map popularity inside the walled garden of large enterprises. So if we are unable to use Internet data to find the potential stars in the Enterprise Web 2.0 space how can we make predictions?

Modeling the characteristics of success

Some of the big Web 2.0 stars of the consumer space are MySpace, Facebook and YouTube. These services do not have an obvious role in the more serious environment of the large enterprise. However, these sites can be used as models for successul implementation of Web 2.0 tools in the enterprise.

An Architecture of Inclusion

The architecture of inclusion is a critical factor. Services must make it easy to join in - to  provide an invitation to added value. Excluding people from participation must be harder to accomplish than enabling involvement. As people get involved the richness of the data grows exponentially. By default data should be shared.

Contribution through normal action

Some of the best examples of building a rich data source that becomes richer the more people use it come by virtue of capturing transaction data. Amazon has made a science of analyzing the transactions on their site and translating that in to information that encourages their site visitors to buy more items through recommendation and information about what other site visitors did. In these scenarios, capturing, analyzing and correlating data requires site visitors to make no extra efforts outside of the purchase process they perform.

What's In It For Me

The WIIFM factor is critical. People will actively participate when they perceive some advantage is derived from participation. The advantage might be fame, speedier completion of work, less aggravation in completing tasks or just fewer interruptions to the normal work flow because a solution was posted for others to refer too.  The WIIFM factor should not be under estimated.

Keep It Simple

One overriding characteristic of popular internet applications is their intuitive nature of operation. If an application is going to scale it has to be simple to use - No manuals required!  Simplicity is favored over features. Any application that requires a training course in order for a user to participate fails this test. A simple application can be picked up by any user and used at their own speed with immediate results. This is where many enterprise applications fall down.

The Web 2.0 Success Framework

When we consider these four characteristics of success we have a framework to evaluate whether a Web 2.0 service will catch on in the enterprise. These characteristics point to the early success of Wikis in the enterprise. They are easy to deploy and simple to adopt. They enable sharing of information and adapt to the needs of the user. Where Wikis have a challenge is in encouraging participation. Unless email feeds are created to enable posting via email, participation requires positive action and information is not created as a byproduct of every day actions of wiki users.

Join in the conversation and let us know what critical lessons you would take from the Internet as we seek to transform Enterprises through the adoption of cutting edge software and processes.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the last paragraph: I'm doing some research about "Wikis in Enterprises". If you like to help, you can take the online survey at

    It is kept short on purpose (5-10 minutes max!). You will also find results there. Thanks a lot.