Wednesday, April 16, 2008

FountainBlue Event - Enterprise 2.0

Earlier this week I was invited by the FountainBlue Forum to take part in a panel discussion about Enterprise 2.0 (how web 2.0 is influencing/penetrating the enterprise market). I have attached the summary of the event written by the organizer, Linda Holroyd.

I wanted to comment on one topic that came up during the discussion relating to the classification of Enterprise 2.0. I view the definition of Enterprise2.0 (if this really is a category) as much more than online collaboration tools for inside the enterprise. The definition needs to be broad enough to encompass some of the really interesting trends that are happening:

SaaS - People who work at companies are consumers when they leave the office. These people want the same quality and user interface at work and at home. No one wanted to use green screens at the office and client-server at home. Today, no one wants great web2.0 style interfaces at home and clunky desktop solutions at the office.

Next Generation Marketing - Lyle Fong of Lithium who joined us on the panel has an interesting company that helps large brand companies identify the key users/influencers/evangelists of their products and engages them. This is a new world of marketing and engagement with your customers - and I think one of the best examples I can think of for a definition of Enterprise2.0. Afterwards Lyle pointed me to the new Forrester book, Groundswell, for more background.

Social Science - We have a company, Baynote, which leverages the science behind the wisdom of the crowds to bring deep product search and recommendation engines to ecommerce sites. I think this is another great example of Enterprise 2.0 - an underlying technology engine that enterprises are using to keep up with the expectations of their customers.

Now to the official summary of the event. Email me if you have further thoughts or questions.

Thank you for attending FountainBlue's High Tech Entrepreneurs' Forum on the topic Web 2.0 - from Consumer to Enterprise Opportunities and Business Models. Please join me in thanking our sponsors at Pillsbury Winthrop Pittman & Shaw LLC for their sponsorship and support.

Please join me also in thanking our knowledgeable, informative, and entertaining panelists for sharing their knowledge and advice on the topic:

· Facilitator Gary Benton, Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

· Dr. Cheemin Bo-Linn, CEO & President, Peritus Partners

· Lyle Fong, CEO and Co-Founder, Lithium

· Anand Iyer, Developer Evangelist, Microsoft Corporation

· Lars Leckie, Partner, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners

· Eugene Lee, CEO , Socialtext

Web 2.0 solutions have centered around personal communities and consumer solutions. But as the solutions have evolved and the technologies have advanced, business professionals are adapting solutions previously targeting consumer audiences, to investigate enterprise opportunities and business models. Below is a summary of notes from our conversation:

The Evolution of the Web:

· Enterprise Web 2.0 is not just for the consumer, it’s for corporations and businesses.

· Business Models for Enterprise Web 2.0 are evolving, but may include page-view payments funded by corporations rather than by advertising.

· There is a groundswell of people using Web 2.0 consumer solutions demanding the same functionality in corporate contexts, which, among other factors, is leading to a convergence of consumer and enterprise solutions. Forward-thinking companies are thinking creatively about how to leverage this opportunity.

· The demand for Enterprise Web 2.0 solutions is triggered in general by the younger generation and those also adverse to traditional enterprise software.

· Web 1.0 is about presented structured information in a structured format. Web 2.0 is more about taking unstructured information and putting it into a structured format. Perhaps Web 3.0 is more about taking unstructured information and leaving it in an unstructured format.

Characteristics of Successful Enterprise Web 2.0 Solutions:

· They solve business needs:

o They may turn customers into assets and advocates and channels working in community.

o They create a community which connects customers and supporters and others with each other.

o They make it easier to support customers, partners and other stakeholders.

o They increase productivity and/or build connections within an organization.

· They have sophisticated technologies which make the solution broadly accessible, with inter-connected elements and back-end components.

· They address an identified pain in specific, measurable ways

· There is a fun, social, yet result-focused objective for having people join and participate in a community. It’s not just about having fun (like in Second Life), it’s also about serving a purpose which can be measured in ROI reports (like collaboratively solving technical problems with a project for example, or gathering innovative ideas in community).

· They create high-trust communities with similar interests:

o They encourage communication and collaboration between members both to build connections and to solve business problems.

o Members make suggestions which others act on.

o Users remain engaged in the community

o Users continue to drive value for the company (see above).

o There is a viral element which supports on ongoing growth of the community.

· They may make it easier for companies to connect traditionally silo-ed groups through sharing of information, resources, connections, etc.,

· Collaboratively-created content creates value and helps build the community, thereby adding value to the corporation.

Advice on Selling Web 2.0 Solutions to the Enterprise:

· The culture of an organization is a key factor on which Enterprise Web 2.0 solutions will take hold and how it will be used internally for the company, and externally for creating and supporting communities partnering with the organization. Factor this in when planning your sales strategy and approach.

· It is essential to work with IT departments who may feel threatened by Enterprise Web 2.0 solutions. The decision-maker/advocate is likely not in that department.

· It is easier than ever to set up an infrastructure and create a web 2.0 solution, but because of that, there are a lot of web 2.0 solutions, and you must be able to define your niche and your potential enterprise customers and the pain which they need to have addressed.

· Have ROI reports and case studies to present to your prospects.

Advice to Web 2.0 Founders:

· Know the problem you want to solve and why you are passionate about solving it. Keep focused on that.

· Know which customers and partners will help you focus on that objective and work with them, rather than continually chasing the low-hanging fruit.

· Remember that it’s not about the technology, it’s about the whole solution and the problem you’re solving.

· Consider the market size.

· Build an experienced team that can deliver.

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