If Social Media will be like Air, Enterprise 2.0 will be like Carbon

The year I transferred from a small, liberal State college to the ginormous State University, I started the fall semester with a bevy of difficult subjects: Chemistry, Calculus, Introduction to Philosophy, and Abnormal Psychology.  When I showed up for my first day of Chemistry, little did I know I had entered the wrong classroom.  I was seated in an Organic Chemistry class, not beginner Chemistry.  Of course, I made a good show of it– nodding with the professor at different intervals, taking notes,  looking confident.  Meanwhile, I had no idea what he was talking about and wanted to run out of there screaming.  However, I now know that 40 minutes was not a waste.  I learned something day one at that class I never forgot.  That lesson is that all organic compounds (and all lifeforms on the planet) have one thing in carbon: Carbon.

I was thinking of this random fact the last few days when I read somewhere that Social Media goddess @charleneli was recently quoted saying, “Social Media will be like air.” (Love that, actually.)  And also because there’s been a bit of to and fro from the business process stalwarts who have once again found the Enterprise 2.0 conversation to occupy their fancy.

Because (admittedly) I have somewhat of an unfair 50-yard line view of the playing field for Enterprise 2.0 adoption in the work I do for The 2.0 Adoption Council, I feel relatively confident in saying, “If Social Media will be like Air, Enterprise 2.0 will be like Carbon.”  I commented to this effect on Zoli’s Enterprise Irregulars re-post of David Terrar’s @DT‘s blog post, although I’m not sure the EI blog is drawing traffic these days.

This is a great post. Read it on @DT’s blog. Totally agree that the bridge between traditional enterprise systems/data/process is the “missing link” in the e20 evolutionary branch of life. Where social will be “like air” as @charleneli says, Enterprise 2.0 will be like Carbon (where Carbon compounds form the basis of all known life.)

But looking at the enterprise through the process prism is not the right perspective, imho. The enterprise of the future will be a social web of connected individuals and teams– innovating, experimenting, verifying, discovering, deciding. The correct view is to analyze the social layer and align process to meet the demands of an ever more productive and innovative workforce.

My friend @sameerpatel has just completed a report, “The Real-Time Enterprise.” Although I have not read this report, I’m fairly certain Sameer and I see the world through a similar lens. I highly recommend you check it out. Enterprise 2.0 is coming.  It’s analogous to trying to stop the Internet from encroaching on global trade in the late 90s.  In the decades to come, it will permeate every business process, every line of communication, every channel to every member of the eco-system of the Enterprise.  Count on it.

Author: Susan Scrupski

Longtime fan of technology to improve humanity.

5 thoughts on “If Social Media will be like Air, Enterprise 2.0 will be like Carbon”

  1. “The enterprise of the future will be a social web of connected individuals and teams– innovating, experimenting, verifying, discovering, deciding.” 

    I would add that this will not simply be confined to each individual enterprise, they will also each be connected to others, in multiple ways. 

    Following your example of scientific parallels, I like to describe what we’re discussing here as “ecosystems”.

  2. Surely, the Enterprise 2.0 concept is both exciting and likely to become pervasive in many situations. The statement that it will be like carbon – or rather common to all organizations and the people that occupy those companies presupposes a world where all companies are spread over disparate areas or employ a number of people where regular personal interaction becomes impractical, say over about 20 people.

    I will admit that I do not have the precise statistics on the matter and invite anyone with interest to double check my numbers here, but the most recent reports on business in the US indicates that small businesses account for more than 50% of the business revenue, and employ over 90% of the population.

    Having been employed in companies ranging from 5 thru 75, I can reasonably suggest that a computer centric model would have interfered with the creative process in the “meeting of minds” where people sit together face to face and just have fun creating new ideas, using good old paper and pencil to record the effort and then introduce new concepts to the larger company in the same face to face way.

    In a way, this makes me sound like one of those old hold-outs for the good ‘ol days of face to face communications, which daily seems to lose ground. However, productivity is the key and in the small companies that are the largest segment of going concerns in North America – it seems that the Enterprise 2.0 ideology just adds another layer of complexity to existing systems (complex or otherwise).

    In the end, the question “does this new layer benefit the business?” will determine if it becomes like “Carbon”, but I can’t really see a machinist or a welder in the fab’ shop spending time reading and editing a wiki so every one knows how welding plays into the “big picture”. He’s there to make parts, and that’s the work that makes money for the company.

    Big companies will benefit. Small companies will have little impetus to adopt. Imho, as exciting as Enterprise 2.0 Sounds, it won’t be ubiquitous like the social networks.

    1. Hi Paul. Thanks for dropping in. E20 is even easier for small companies, if the culture will support it. And a blue collar worker is among the greatest beneficiaries to greater connectivity and influence (as well as having a direct impact on business process improvement). Lastly, social networks are included in e20.

      1. Hi Susan. The organic chemistry insight is fascinating. E20 = carbon of contemporary business environment. Thanks for that.

        I can attest e20 is definitely transforming small and midsize marketplace — flatteneing the playing fields and opening channels with the other side of the world and across local and regional communities.


  3. So nice of you to reference my report!

    Yes, you’re right – it will permeate key processes, interaction constructs and channels as you forecast and the report says that.

    Gosh, I’m so pumped about the next few years!

    P.S. Carbon is a killer metaphor. Will pilfer w/ attribution -)

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