Back in the stone ages, I had the good fortune to work on Madison Avenue before the digital age had arrived. One campaign I was working on was IBM’s launch of its long-awaited mid-range series, the AS400. We grappled with the positioning of the product and did focus group testing across the country. When it was time to launch the product, the creative team pitched using the team from M*A*S*H, including Alan Alda to promote basic positioning of the product which was simple: the AS400 will help your small business grow. Why am I risking humiliation revealing my age by telling you this? The account team was headed by a guy that often used the turn of phrase, “big animal pictures” to describe how we had to have a very simple visual impression to tell our story. I can’t reveal to you what IBM spent on their launch of the AS400 with our Madison Avenue agency, but even after 20 years– it’s a lot. Similarly, during web 1.0, we saw hundreds of millions dollars spent on advertising to create awareness, induce trial for Internet companies. Add to that the giddy Wall Street headlines and until it all went south, there was a baseline understanding of what it was all about and what the benefits of doing business on the Internet were.
We are lacking Big Animal Pictures to bring the message home for Enterprise 2.0 today. In web 2.0– we have the blogosphere and maybe YouTube. The problem with the blogosphere is, well, we get it. The budgets and the markets aren’t the same as they were in 1.0 and in the enterprise space, until the large enterprise vendors get serious about enterprise 2.0, we’re not going to see widespread education and awareness building for the masses. In the meantime, we will get to appreciate the terrific work done by what I’m starting to dub “Pirates of the Collaborian” like this guy, Scott Gavin, with his truly awesome “Big Animal Picture” slide show: Meet Charlie. (Please send Charlie to everyone you know in the hopes it will be picked up on a major media outlet.)
It is interesting, however, because just as enterprise 2.0 must grow virally throughout the enterprise as an emergent, collaborative alternative, it is following the same pattern of adoption in the broader context. Exposure and education is still the gateway.