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Social business vs. Enterprise 2.0 debate is the tip of the iceberg

The social business vs. Enterprise 2.0 debate fired up again recently when the question, "What are the distinctions between Social Business and Enterprise 2.0?" was posed on Quora. Maybe you've taken part in the fray over there.

Or perhaps you have also seen Klint Finley's recent ReadWriteEnterprise article laying out his argument. I was giving Klint's article a read and just left a few thoughts in the comments. But my wheels are still turning!

In my opinion, this social business vs. Enterprise 2.0 debate is really just the tip of the "what-do-we-call-this-and-where-does-it-fit-in" iceberg. What do we call activities that happen under the umbrella of social business and/or E2.0, and where should they fall?

For example, where does collaboration fit in? Does the act of collaboration fall under social business because it's people-oriented? Or is it E2.0, because, quite frankly, unless you spend all of your time in meetings or walking around the office, your going to need technology to collaborate.

And how about innovation? And community management? Would these classify as social business or E2.0? You can imagine how slippery the iceberg gets once you start breaking down nomenclature.

I agree that part of this discussion is about control and power (let's be honest -- claiming rights to identifying an industry name reflects influence and can get you more power). But the bottom line is still that it's not what we call it, but what we do with it that counts.

You can bet IT, community managers, customer relationship personel, and information professionals are not sitting in their offices or cubes wondering which term best describes how they interact with employees, customers, content, and information. It's just their job. And they are each doing it differently with a unique combination of technology, people, and processes.

As quoted by Mark Fidelman in the ReadWriteEnterprise article, "Neither technology or people determines the other, but each shapes the other." Second that.


Greg Lowe said...

I think you have a valid point, and you even call it out as "collaboration". I think we ALL agree that this term is too vague. I have now decided to leave the debate behind and just continue to do what I do (which is change the way that my company does business), and leave the debate to the ones who think that having a label is a good use of energy and or financially gain from it.

Carolyn MacNeill said...

Thanks, Greg. I appreciate the comment! The industry certainly needs the "do-ers" like you to keep doing. Maybe the "talkers" need to debate for cathartic value, or maybe discussion will (eventually) help us all put context around what are still subjective processes, because I agree that right now what’s actually happening within the walls of organizations and what’s being debated in cyberspace sometimes seems like light years away.

Lindsey said...

Great post Carol. I really like your analysis of the importance of how we use data, versus how much data we have. We have a community for IM professionals ( and have bookmarked this post for our users. Look forward to reading your work in the future.

Carolyn MacNeill said...

Thanks, Lindsey. We appreciate your input, and the cross link!


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