Enterprise 2.0 – Innovation through Aquisition

Great spot by Mike Gotta over at Collaborative Thinking. He picks up on an article in CIO magazine by CG Lynch, “Web 2.0, Social Networks in ’09: The Year of Consolidation, Not Innovation“, originally spotted by the The Connections Blog. This quote puts it all into perspective quite nicely:

IBM, for its part, has more aggressively shown willingness to move forward with Lotus Connections, which right now has a better design than the social software features in SharePoint, which is largely still a document management system.

I think most people would agree with that – well at least those that are struggling to implement Sharepoint as a social software solution.

The CIO article goes on to say:

But both companies are further removed from innovation than the enterprise 2.0 vendors. While enterprise 2.0 vendors mimic what they see in the consumer market, thus keeping them a degree of separation away from where the innovation actually occurs, the incumbents are even further removed; they simply copy the enterprise 2.0 vendors.

This isn’t a sustainable model for innovation in the enterprise Web 2.0 market. With shrinking access to venture capital, there’s reason to believe some of the enterprise 2.0 start-ups will fail or struggle to make money in 2009. When this happens, they’ll either fold or be purchased by IBM or Microsoft.

Web 2.0, Social Networks in ’09: The Year of Consolidation, Not Innovation – CIO – Blogs and Discussion

Mike goes on to say:

Sure, Connections is ahead of SharePoint when it comes to some of the key aspects of social software – but I find “Enterprise 2.0 vendors” to be ahead of Microsoft and IBM when it comes to certain technical capabilities or user experience aspects. Sometimes I think that Microsoft and IBM are so intent on stealing away the install base of the other, that they are not paying attention to other market signals regarding what customers are looking for in social platforms. Still, the economic downturn will make it difficult for smaller vendors to survive so IT strategists should expect some vendors to fail and others to be acquired (which really is not anything terribly insightful based on past downturns and bubble bursts).

So, on reflection, I’d say that Google are pretty well placed to just get on with mopping up the Social Computing space that the ‘Enterprise’ boys are ignoring.  The key differentiator (and potential weakness) between enterprise vendors such as IBM and Microsoft and their erstwhile nemesis Google is the very fact that they only know ‘enterprise-speak’, i.e. negotiating and selling at a corporate level, whereas Google’s market is the end user, a market they they know far better than their competitors in the social computing stakes.  So, whilst users wait for their organisations to provide what they really want, Google is out there delivering it, e.g. Google Groups, Google Apps, Google Sites, Google Friends Connect etc.

Yes, we know that the likes of IBM and Microsoft will survive the credit crunch, and that consolidation is a natural consequence of a recession, but I know which horse I’m putting my money on to flourish in these difficult times!

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