Posted April 22, 2008 9:01 am by with 14 comments

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There seems to be somewhat of a shock wave going around the web, due to the startling revelation that 68% of small businesses have no plans to adopt “Enterprise 2.0” initiatives.

Here’s a look at a chart from the Forrester report.

I know what you’re thinking. Wow, 51% of employers with 20k+ employees are already planning to adopt Enterprise 2.0, yet only 20% of those with less than 99 employees are planning the same.

I know what else you’re thinking. What the heck is “Enterprise 2.0” anyway?

I certainly didn’t know what the term meant, and perhaps small business owners either don’t know what the term means either or they see “enterprise” and just assume it doesn’t apply to them.

Here’s how Forrester defines Enterprise 2.0 (via RWW):

Well, what it doesn’t include is consumer services like Blogger, Facebook, Netvibes, and Twitter, says Forrester. These types of services are aimed at consumers and are often supported by ads, so they do not qualify as Enterprise 2.0 tools.

Instead, collaboration and productivity tools based on the concepts of web 2.0, but designed for the enterprise worker will count as being Enterprise 2.0. In addition, for-pay services, like those from BEA Systems, IBM, Microsoft, Awareness, NewsGator Technologies, and Six Apart will factor in.

When you see the definition, it makes perfect sense why 68% of small businesses don’t have plans to use Enterprise 2.0 in the future. They’ve realized that they can better–and freely–reach their customers by using the abundance of “consumer services” available to them.

Let the big corporations spend their billions of dollars ($4.6 billion by the year 2013) trying to build a better mouse-trap social network to attract new customers. In the meantime, small businesses will continue to head to the places where their customers already hang-out.

  • Andy, this certainly should boost the spirits of small businesses who often bemoan not having access to big business resources. Making the transition from Corporate America to owning a small business has certainly enhanced my creativity and innovation. It is funny how we lock ourselves into a mindset that “fancy” is better. Your post validates that simple (and often free) are often the best way. Thanks for sharing the Forrester report and for your insights.

    Karen Swim’s last blog post..Getting to the Starting Line – What Running Taught Me About Goals and Wants

  • @Karen – you’re most welcome. In Radically Transparent, we discuss why even big companies might want to think twice before building enterprise apps. Sometimes you can achieve more by simply going to where the community already hangs out–as opposed to trying to bring them to you. 🙂

  • @ Andy, more companies could use your wisdom. I am fortunate to have some corporate customers. I am often surprised at how difficult they make things, and while they’re building elaborate systems or holding endless meetings to talk about building elaborate systems, small companies have “been there, done that.” This is such an exciting time in business, I can’t wait to see what comes next. 🙂

    Karen Swim’s last blog post..Getting to the Starting Line – What Running Taught Me About Goals and Wants

  • Ah, interesting! We did think you were at first talking about small businesses embracing social media but now we see it’s all the somewhat unnecessary stuff they’re not interested in. Great data!

  • Takes one back to Schumacher and Small is beautiful philosophy what?

    Nicole’s last blog post..Need a New Computer?

  • Great post, Andy! Although I think a distinction needs to be made between big business’s investment in expensive internal collaboration tools and their customer facing efforts. I’m sure Coke is spending IT dollars with IBM to build internal wikis, etc. but they’ll be getting involved with Facebook, MySpace, etc because that is where the customers are.

    Jeff Majka’s last blog post..Content Remains The King

  • @Jeff – fair point! 🙂

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  • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Most small businesses and most people don’t know “What the heck Enterprise 2.0 is” . Andrew McAfee is credited with creating the term Enterprise 2.0. I have included the link to his definition below.

    Because Forrester and most in the industry focus on the impact Enterprise 2.0 will have in the large corporation they often miss the subtleties in Mr. McAfee’s definition that also apply to small businesses. Sweeping definitions that merely point to Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and declare these as models for business tools are shallow at best.

    Enterprise 2.0 is about collaboration and workforce empowerment. I think you will see small businesses eagerly adopt tools that will enhance and strengthen their customer and vendor community.

    Workforce empowerment is about employees using tools that are “Emergent” which means the tools are available but not dictated and controlled by management. It’s business collaboration and automation from the bottom-up (employee driven) instead of top-down (management dictated). An example would be a wiki collaborative system instead of a highly structured and rigid document controls system.

    Enterprise 2.0 tools bring us the promise of a more efficient and effective workforce. I think small businesses will readily adopt Enterprise 2.0 tools as the concept matures and the real benefits are revealed.

    Andrew McAfee – Enterprise 2.0

  • There’s so much talk about corporate adoption of Web 2.0 principles and practices. As for me, small biz was, is and always will be where it’s at! And, I think small business is best suited to make use of the Web 2.0. Take, for instance, custom sign maker, J.D. Iles, with his blog. He gets it and is a model for others to follow.

    As to hanging out where our customers already do, that’s certainly necessary. However, I don’t think it negates the idea that we can’t create what I refer to as a “table of our own.” Social networks don’t have to be huge to be profitable from a community-building standpoint. Often, smaller is better.

    Paul Chaney’s last blog post..Tweet Scan: A tool for marketers to spam you? Let’s hope not.

  • Joan Kenterwood

    Yeah, Enterprise 2.0 is a buzz word. Nobody seems to have enough time to develop a better term. That’s a pity! However, there are people who try to write on this topic and make things clearer for small business owners. I mean project management blog, for example.

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