Book Review: Andrew McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0

Andrew McAfee's Enterprise 2.0Just finished reading Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges

My review in two words: Excellent book!

Whether you are an expert in the Enterprise 2.0 world or just a beginner, this book has something for you. Whether you believe in Enterprise 2.0 or not, this book has some excellent concepts that can be used to help bring social tools into the enterprise.

The book is split into two parts with the Part 1 covering the tools of Enterprise 2.0 and Part 2 discussing how to successfully utilize social tools within the enterprise.

Part 1 provides a very good overview of the tools and techniques of Enterprise 2.0 as well as some real-world case studies of companies that have implemented Web 2.0 platforms.  These companies are extremely diverse running the gamut from government agencies to start-ups and the information provided by McAfee shows real-world usage of Web 2.0 within enterprises.

Part 2 is where the really good stuff happens.  This is where McAfee shines.  This is the stuff that every CEO, COO, CIO and CMO should read and digest.   This is the place where you get to see some strategies for using social tools within the enterprise.    When you read this book make, sure you pay attention to the Six Organizational Strategies starting on page 179.  Good stuff.

Will this book give you the recipe for successful use of Enterprise 2.0?  No.  Will this book make your Enterprise 2.0 project(s) successful?  Maybe. Maybe not. What this book will do is give you some ideas on how to introduce Enterprise 2.0 into your organization and give you some tips on make it successful.

So…let’s take a step away from the book for a minute and look at the topic itself.  Enterprise 2.0.  Great name but one that has been much maligned.  The topic has caused a lot of debate since being introduced.  For some examples, go read Dennis Howlett‘s article titled “Enterprise 2.0 – the non-debate” and then read Mark Fidelman’s response on CloudAve titled “Enterprise 2.0 Caffeine: Let’s debunk the non-debate” to get some flavor of the various debate’s happening out there on the topic. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of Enterprise 2.0 in the comments.

With all of this debate, or non-debates as some would say,  let’s look at McAfee’s definition of Enterprise 2.0:

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms by organizations in pursuit of their goals.

McAfee continues with his definition when he writes:

Enterprise 2.0, then, is about how organizations use the newly available ESSP’s [emergent social software platforms] to do their work better

With those definitions in mind, let’s revisit one of the main arguments against Enterprise 2.0 –> The value of Social Media / Enterprise 2.0 cannot be determined.  In fact, there are many (Howlett included) that say social media tools are worthless to the organization.

My response to this argument is a simple one:

How valuable is the knowledge of an employee?  How valuable is the knowledge of 10, 100 or 1000 employees? Can you place value on that knowledge?  Maybe.  Maybe not. That doesn’t mean that trying to harness that knowledge is worthless.  So why would using tools to harness that knowledge be worthless?

I can understand some of the arguments of folks out there against Enterprise 2.0.  There are a lot of buzzwords floating about and a lot of hype around the subject, but if you take the lessons from this book to heart, you’ll do more than buy into the hype…you’ll give your organization an opportunity to succeed by really harnessing the expertise, experiences and value of your organizational knowledge.

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