What's next for the Enterprise?

The conversation around Enterprise 2.0 is getting more and more operational these days. As bigger and bigger companies are jumping in the game, the conversation is getting pulled in a lot of directions. That’s to be expected, but I also expect to fight it to the best of my ability.What’s really next for the enterprise?

Is the next big shift in how people work together really as simple as a cheaper, prettier, version of Lotus Notes? Or a bigger more mashable of your old CRM tool?Is the next wave of Enterprise Computing really going to be all about moving more information, faster, to more people? Some think it is.

I get a feeling in my stomach that tells me no.

Our Quixotic Adventure

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The search for greatness is nothing new, and it might follow, on some level, that when we have a great idea, we want it’s impact to be as wide and deep as possible.

It seems to me though, the more I look at it, that the most interesting new things are happening on a smaller and smaller level.

Our attempts to put on a suit of low cost armor to do the same job of the knights of old is a sad, timid affair. Instead of going off to play by the rules of the old knights, is it possible we could accomplish must more by instead working by a new set of rules? Or simply: can we accept our obvious and sometimes less glorious role?

The Power of Less Expectation

Enterprise 2.0 has been describe in a lot of ways, old terms and other new terms are now being piled on to the Enterprise 2.0 brand, SOA, KM and others are all now all used in the same brush stroke to talk about the evolution in software delivery and information management.

What if, instead of expecting new software to do it all, we simply expected the software to do very few things, and we started to let the people who use the software make the decisions again?

Instead of giving people an amazing new online spreadsheet application, why not give them a place to talk about the latest numbers in their job, and what those numbers really mean? Sure, the finance department sees that the trend is towards flatter sales, but it’s your front line people who have the power to change that — why not let them find out sooner, and in a more meaningful way?

Wouldn’t that change more, can’t we do that through using less?

Rather than asking everyone to use a document repository to turn out the same old documents, what if a radical social presence tool instead let your employees find out who was working on the same ideas, so that they could share in whatever way they were most comfortable with? It could be a group blog, or a wiki, or it might just be emailing Word Documents.

The possibilities for less are endless, and we need to start thinking more about taking down barriers, rather than just redesigning, redeveloping and recreating old barriers again.

The next great pieces of software will be those that let the user control their own world and manipulate the world in the ways which mean the most to them.

Are you thinking about how to give that control to people, or are you thinking about how to direct their destiny with your own hand?


This post was written for the FASTForward Blog, don’t forget to follow the discussion over there.