Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Book Review - Enterprise 2.0 by Niall Cook (2008)

Recently I had the opportunity to write a book review on Academici for a new book titled "Enterprise 2.0". I thought I just as well post the review here too. The original review appears here: http://www.academici.com/blog.aspx?bid=5676


Cook, N. (2008). Enterprise 2.0: How Social Software Will Change the Future of Work. Hampshire, England: Gower Publishing Limited.


Author: Niall Cook

Title: Enterprise 2.0: How Social Software Will Change the Future of Work
Publisher: Gower Publishing
Publication Date: 2008
ISBN: 978-0566088001
Price: (US) $89.95



Constructive applications of social software within a business context have garnered a lot of recent interest from practitioners as well as the research community. After an influential foray on the Internet, Web 2.0 technologies are being touted by many to bring significant benefits to organizations through their ability to facilitate agile collaboration and efficient information sharing across business functional areas.

Niall Cook’s Enterprise 2.0 is an opportunely timed book that provides a managerial overview of Web 2.0 technologies for businesses. At a time when organizations are starting to get serious about their Web 2.0 technology investments, Enterprise 2.0 can prove to be a useful and practical primer for getting a grasp on Web 2.0 technologies for the workplace. As social software applications such as blogs, wikis, social networking, collaborative tagging, social bookmarking and microblogging start to move beyond the pilot stages of implementation in many organizations, executives, managers, process owners, as well as technologists will need to know how to effectively implement and institutionalize these applications within the organization.

Recent industry trends also show that organizations that have been experimenting with social software technologies will most likely be looking at deploying them in the form of an integrated solution comprising of a multitude of tools and applications. This shift in the market from individual technologies to integrated solutions, accompanied with the aspiration for enterprise-wide deployment will require qualified strategy formulation, careful planning, and capable project execution. Enterprise 2.0 delves into sufficient details about each of these aspects of deployment and use of social enterprise software within the organization.

The discussion throughout the book is tied together with the 4 Cs framework (Communication, Cooperation, Collaboration, Connection) which the author initially introduces as a classification scheme for social software. Progressing through the book, it becomes clear though, that the 4Cs framework is not only a valuable analysis framework for conceptually making sense of the types of social software applications and their uses, but also for performing an assessment of the organization’s technology requirements and translating them into functional specifications. The examples and use cases provided with the 4Cs framework foster a better understanding of the potential gains and improvements that can be achieved through enterprise social software. The book’s managerial style narration and its references to various real world case studies make it easy for the discerning executive to comprehend the business case for investing in key social software tools and applications.

After helping the reader gain a sense of the business case for enterprise social software, the author moves on to suggesting a methodology for implementation and institutionalization of these technologies. Significant emphasis is placed on the adoption of technologies and overcoming resistance from staff. Toward this, the author aligns himself with the notion of accentuating user value over network value – i.e. drawing attention to the benefits of social software applications to individual users before talking about their benefits to the business. This can prove to be especially useful in getting the passive or less active users on board with the program. Beyond advice, the author proposes specific tactics to encourage user participation and speedier organization wide adoption by offering guidelines that can be adapted for different social and political cultures.

The last part of the book is dedicated to a review of the literature on enterprise social software. As an invaluable resource for the academic readers, this section provides a current review of terms and definitions related to the subject, as well as a summary of the conceptual treatise of enterprise social software found in seminal works.

To conclude this review, as organizations embark on projects to implement comprehensive enterprise software solutions that integrate multiple technologies into unified platforms, they need to rely on guidelines and recommendations from prior research, practitioner experiences, expert opinions, and lessons learned by others in their projects. Enterprise 2.0 provides a useful synthesis of these resources in the form of a discourse that will appeal to both the industry and the academic communities.