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Wednesday, April 12, 2006 by admin
As I mentioned earlier, the research and analysis project that’s taking up a lot of my time at the moment is focused on Web 2.0 and the enterprise.
I’ve been scratching my head for some days now, trying to think about how (or even if) it’s possible to analyse the business impact of Web 2.0 in a structured way. "Web 2.0" is very hard to distil as a concept – because in reality it’s a label for a period in time (much like the Cambrian era – in more ways than one). We end up with silly "definitions" which can only point to things and say "that’s Web 2.0," and "this isn’t Web 2.0". That’s not exactly going to help a company figure out if they should do anything about this Web 2.0 stuff; and if so, what they should do.
As well as talking to enterprises and interviewing a large number of vendors, I’ve re-read all the usual texts – you know, the ones that litter the conversations of the blogerati: The Cluetrain Manifesto; The Tipping Point; The Wisdom of Crowds; etc etc. The books were interesting, but I was still missing something (maybe I’m just a bit stupid).
Then I read a paper by John Hagel and John Seely Brown – From Push to Pull: Emerging models for mobilizing resources. It’s pretty theoretical in places, and it’s a work-in-progress; but I suddenly realised that I’d fallen into the age-old IT industry analyst’s trap: I was starting with the technology. I was thinking that what I needed to do in this project, was to map how technology changes in the Web domain will affect what IT needs to do to support business needs.
But the reality is that there’s an equal degree of change in business, towards a post-industrial model that recognises that the old rules don’t necessarily hold – and this change maps closely to what’s happening on the web.
What’s much more profound is that trends in the world of the Web and in the world of business are driving each other – and this feedback loop is going to have a profound effect not only on enterprise IT and how it meets business needs in the future; but also on how businesses will look.
Hence, thanks to JH and JSB, the title of this post: Introducing the Uncompany*: the future of business, shaped by the forces of globalization, the drive for transparency and the desire to engage effectively with smart, connected markets.
What does the Uncompany look like? What will the impact be on how technology is used in business? What impacts will this have on IT suppliers, buyers, architects, and operations people?
I’m working on it.
*If you’re wondering why I’m using this term, see here.