The Future of Business 2.0

The social media phenomenon has already transformed the consumer Web into so-called “Web 2.0.” Today Web 2.0 is affecting business processes in thousands of organizations by offering incredible communication and collaboration opportunities known as “Enterprise 2.0.” President Ray Lane, now a general partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Major corporations all around the world, such as IBM, Procter & Gamble, and Walt Disney, have embraced Enterprise 2.0 technology. We’re witnessing the transformation of standard methods of conducting business, and this transformation is caused by the new-generation applications.

The term Enterprise 2.0 was coined by Andrew McAfee, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, in spring 2006. Professor McAfee introduced this term to describe the usage of emerging social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their peers (spouses or customers).

Through the adoption of wikis, blogs, collaboration planning tools, social networks, and other “weapons of mass collaboration,” since Don Trapscott calls them into his book Wikinomics, cooperation patterns are shifting in today’s organizations. Enterprise 2.0 applications and business practices provide managers with access to the right data at the right time through a system of connected software and services. Examples of thousands of small companies, as well as giants like Microsoft, Toyota, and many others, reveal that Web-based Enterprise 2.0 software allow businesses obtain a huge competitive edge in the form of enforced innovation, productivity, and agility through entry into the collective intellect of several professionals.

Efficient sharing and gathering of data, facilitated social connections within enterprises, and enhanced client connections are not the only advantages that Enterprise 2.0 software delivers to small companies and huge businesses. Let’s see how these tools can help to manage jobs.

THE NEW APPROACH TO MANAGING Alastair Majury Dunblane

The Enterprise 2.0 motion is naturally affecting and attractive job management in organizations. Blogs, wikis, and other second-generation tools provide better opportunities for communication and collaboration. Thus they give a great potential for enhancing existing project management practices.

Traditionally, a project supervisor is the major connection in most project-related communications. This directly affects the efficiency of the group, as well as the director’s own productivity. These days, many businesses still use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or classic project management applications, like Microsoft Project, for tracking their endeavors. E-mailing text files and spreadsheets is still very popular, despite its many shortcomings.

E-mail is a closed communication medium, and many companies confirm that it does a poor job of shooting and sharing understanding. For instance, if you e-mail a record to two individuals, you then have three copies of this record to manage, merge, and differentiate. It is tough to work on this document simultaneously. This really isn’t the only problem. Knowledge is buried in e-mails, as it is available only to the sender and the recipients, so each of the other group members can’t gain from it. For instance, if an employee e-mails a status upgrade to his manager, the change will only be visible to others following the supervisor manually updates the schedule. This creates unnecessary work and delays the exchange of information. There’s little visibility and control within the project if all info is buried in thousands of e-mails residing in workers’ mailboxes. The list of disadvantages could go on.

Traditional project management tools are not focused on collaboration, either. They were mostly designed with the top-down approach in mind and are not meant for open collaboration. These tools are focused on a project manager and make him the core element of the project communications. He first has to pull facts out of employees through meetings and e-mails, then put them into a file and communicate the project plan to upper management and clients. The process is then repeated every time something changes. The project manager also needs to play the role of an alarm clock, reminding employees of their deadlines and overdue tasks. The whole process turns out to be time-consuming and effortful, and it results in a heavy burden for a project manager.

Enterprise 2.0 technologies catalyze innovations in project management. The term highlights a new approach to project management, characterized by a dramatic shift toward having collaboration as the heart of managing projects. The new-generation tools take care of the routine part of a project manager’s work: reminding team members about deadlines, merging status updates into a single plan, and communicating changes. New tools also let people collaborate and share information easily. The role of the project manager is changing; he is becoming a project visionary, instead of a taskmaster. New-generation tools give him more space for being a project leader.

What makes the new technologies so effective? I will list the five key benefits below.

Making It Simple to Collaborate

One of the major constraints associated with traditional project management software was its complexity. Traditional tools have hundreds of features, which take months to master. Adoption of traditional project management software is often connected with spending a lot of the employees’ time and also the company’s money on instruction. In contrast, the second-generation project management applications are lightweight and simple to use. They provide an opportunity to start collaborating quickly, with no delays for extensive learning and initial set-up.

New project management tools can be easily utilized even by unskilled computer users, which makes it feasible to involve more individuals in project collaboration. A well-known case in point is blogging. It’s quite simple to share thoughts in a website and receive feedback in comments. Simplicity drives adoption. When folks like the applications they use it more frequently.

New software tools provide a far better user experience, which will help to solve one of the biggest challenges of classic software packages. One of the major issues with conventional tools was the users’ unwillingness to update data regularly. Plans often got outdated and became useless because of that. New tools are much more convenient to use. For example, they let you create tasks in the system by sending e-mails from their Blackberry devices. This level of simplicity and convenience engages users and thus helps to keep information up-to-date. This is a critical component for successful project management software implementation. The power of new tools comes to the surface when they turn simple actions of individual users into a great product of collective work. In Enterprise 2.0 terms, it is called collective intelligence and emergent structures.