Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Web 2.0 and the Flat Enterprise

by Dennis D. McDonald

I’ve been trying to figure out what the impacts of “web 2.0” applications and processes will be on “the enterprise.”

From a user perspective I’ve been working on the Web 2.0 Management Survey. That’s helping to bring some things in the focus, such as:

  • IT department resistance is not as primary a stumbling block as I had originally imagined.
  • Not all companies are ready to embrace “web 2.0” culture (nor do I think all companies should)
  • The “web 2.0” ecosystem is awash with evangelists,  promoters, and extremely clever people who have dollar signs dancing in their eyes.

Cutting through the Web 2.0 “jungle” requires a machete’s worth of concentration and skepticism. There are a couple of blogs I read that do tend to evangelize but also they regularly offer useful thinking to put Web 2.0 developments into perspective.

One is IT Redux, Ismael Ghalimi’s blog. Ismael is  CEO of the firm Intalio. He’s an “open source” and business process modeling guru. He uses his blog to promote his firm and to offer thoughts about middleware, Web 2.0, and Office 2.0.

Ismael recently published a very interesting piece called The World Is Flat where he parallels that current book with his own observations about what is happening to enterprise system development practices as a highly sophisticated technology firm that is taking advantage — big time — of remotely hosted applications, development outsourcing, and open source architecture and economics. The practices he describes are certainly not for everyone — especially if you have a few mainframe legacy systems lying around that need care, feeding, and interfacing with — but the overall impression of modern architecture opportunities he provides is one of great agility. This article in particular makes you realize how much a modern, agile organization can do without making massive infrastructure investments. If these factors can translate into lower costs, somebody’s lunch is going to be eaten — as long as comparable service is provided to the customer.

Another blog I read is Dion Hinchcliffe’s Web 2.0 Blog. Dion is with Sphere of Influence and is a Web 2.0 Evangelist with a Capital E. 

In a recent article titled Thinking In Web 2.0 In 16 Ways he sets out a list of reasons why Web 2.0 really isn’t just “old wine in new bottles.” One of the points he makes I think is especially noteworthy:

Data belongs to those that create it.  Yes, you heard me.  Everything a user creates, contributes, or shares is theirs, unless they have given away the right explicitly and by free choice.  Any information they contribute to the Web should be editable, deleteable, unshareable by the contributor whenever they feel like it.  This also means indirect data like their attention records, log entries, navigation history, site trails, or anything else that might be tracked.  And all Web sites must clearly and simply state what information a user is creating and give them a way to stop creating it and even clean up.

Note the reference to ownership of “indirect data.” This topic is actually why I got into blogging in a serious way way back when I started blogging about personal data ownership. As we travel through the Internet and the Blogosphere, and as we conduct our daily business and personal affairs, we are constantly making waves. Sometimes we’re actually creating words and images; other times we leave in our wake electronic records of our having communicated or done business with somebody.

All these records take on value and, whether or not you are concerned about privacy issues, if someone derives economic value from something you’ve done, why shouldn’t you be reimbursed for having done something to create that value?

Voices challenging “web 2.0” significance are arising, especially given the natural conservatism of “the enterprise.” I’ve certainly seen this in some of the interviews I’ve conducted where the reality of collaborative knowledge management and quick response to customer inquiries are discussed.

I personally believe that enterprise adoption of Web 2.0 based applications will be dependent on these factors:

  1. Actual cost advantage in terms of total cost of ownership [I’ve yet to see proof of this].
  2. Enterprise comfort with remote storage of valuable corporate data [This is solvable with enough time, money, and technology].
  3. Solution of the “data ownership issue” without recourse to onerous and incompatible DRM solutions [Overcoming the opposition of vocal minorities will be necessary].
  4. Availability of industrial strength applications and API’s [This appears to be well underway].
  5. Adoption of Web 2.0 by major vendors and outsourcers [i.e., vendor based risk management].


Would you like to comment on this article? I’d love to hear from you! Please use the comment function below or send an email to Dennis D. McDonald at

Influencing Link Counts - An Experiment

VEIL and the Crippling of the Free Market