So I finally am ready to collect some of the loose ends of the McAfee/Davenport debate and comment:
My main point is, that it’s always a good idea to debate with the contrarians/heretics/opponents especially when they’re polite, well-spoken and -educated. And Tom Davenport surely is, so his arguing against the flow is a good thing: it forces us enterprise 2.0 proponents to think hard why we’re so into this stuff, and it makes sure that we think more about adoption issues and implementation paths than about (yes, cool) technologies.
And Davenport made this really good point that collaboration doesn’t depend that much on technologies, when already existing technology’s capabilities may suffice.
Still, I am now very sure that we’re not in for a fad or an extension of what’s gone before. Social software technologies are allowing for connectivity, adaptivity and emergence – and these are principles that govern these complex organizational systems we call corporations. And these are the ways they change how we collaborate, i.e. through changing context and information supply, through enabling flexibility and agility, through giving room for self-organization …
Moreover, enhancing competitiveness and productivity of knowledge workers is long overdue. Here, social networks are only one part of the equation: there are also other aspects of Enterprise 2.0 like e.g. mashups and “as a service” applications that go together nicely with other enterprise software trends like SOA. In fact, I think that asking whether Enterprise 2.0 is really something new is pointless, some will always highlight its revolutionary parts, others will point out its ancestors in CSCW and enterprise software and the traditional set of technologies for collaboration, interaction, and information sharing.
Anyway, Enterprise 2.0 is definitely going to impact corporate culture, (knowledge worker) productivity and startegic competitiveness.