In the past few weeks, there’s been a major uptick in discussion about Web 2.0 / Enterprise convergence. Andrew McAfee has a new article on what he calls Enterprise 2.0. Dion’s got an entire blog on the subject, though he thinks it should be called Enterprise Web 2.0. Nicholas Carr is skeptical. Seems to me all this discussion about what might happen in this space is pretty silly since it’s happened already.
Unfortunately, Andrew’s Enterprise 2.0 isn’t freely available (you can buy a copy of the PDF for $6.50), but it primarily focuses on the growing frustration with email and the rise of collaborative Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs and wikis inside the enterprise. No big shock here – for collaboration, blogs and wikis are to email what word processors are to typewriters. Andrew also introduces a model he calls SLATES for describing the aspects of these technologies: Search, Links, Authorship, Tags, Extensions and Signals. So far, all good stuff.
The problem with the article is that he talks about these technologies in the future tense. For example, he writes: "As technologists build Enterprise 2.0 technologies that incorporate the SLATES components" which implies that these are coming down the pipe rather than here right now. Not only here right now, but available for going on three years. I’m talking about SharePoint 2003. 2003 as in "a year before Tim O’ Reilly coined the term Web 2.0".
SharePoint (I’m talking primarily about the free feature pack for Windows Server 2003 though about the portal server as well) supports Search, Links, Authorship and Signals – four of the six components of Andrew’s Enterprise 2.0 stack. (And frankly, I'm not sure where Andrew is going w/ his Extensions aspect so four out of five is probably more accurate.) More importantly, it’s specifically designed to support what Dion called the Democratization of Content. As of December 2004, Microsoft’s internal IT department was supporting "more than 60,000 users, 250 group and division portals, 50,000 team sites, and manages more than 3 terabytes of information." Personally, I use the coportate enterprise intranet portal, my division portal, a handful of team sites and my personal site on a pretty much daily basis. Only the enterprise and division portal are centrally managed. Given the explosion of SharePoint sites inside Microsoft, I'm obviously not alone.
Creating a new SharePoint team site inside Microsoft is totally self service and takes literally a few seconds. Once you have a site, you can configure it as you like, creating lists and setting permissions as you see fit. Again, it’s totally self service. Plus, it’s totally public unless you specifically lock it down (well, public inside the firewall at any rate). Of course, it could be easier and better, and that’s what next versions are for. SharePoint 2007 will have direct support for blogs, wikis and RSS. Check out the C9 video for more info.
Given the market momentum to date and the impending release of a new version, I find it very surprising to find Dion, Andrew and Nicholas discussing the potential ramifications of these technologies without even mentioning SharePoint. If these guys want to see the Enterprise 2.0 technology in action, all they need to do install SharePoint.