Web 2.0 in the Enterprise – Blogging the TIE Event

The Web 2.0 in the Enterprise panel discussion hosted by TIE was exciting.  In fact it wasn’t really a panel discussion, rather a most interactive group event.   Jeff Clavier as moderator with Charlene Li, Ross Mayfield, Jeff Nolan as  panelists quickly threw away the traditonal “moderated discussion followed by Q&A” format (that’s-so-web-1.0), and turned it into a vibrant, lively, interactive, “Web 2.0-style” conversation.

In fact the conversation was hectic enough that I’ll do this in a reverse order: first attempt to organize some of my thoughts, then just publish my rather raw notes. 

Key thoughts:

Far too broad subject.  Lots of different interpretations:  A technology?  Marketing label? Software delivery method?  New functionality?  Business Model? Human interaction, collaboration? ..etc.  As Jeff put it the day after in his blog: “It’s pretty hard to focus on the concept of mashups when you are also introducing blogs/wikis, or talk about the signifigance of scripting and hosted software delivery at the same time.

Conclusions from the Panel:

  • Web 2.0 is people, collaboration, creating together.
  • Business Model change is more important than technology change.
  • The divider between consumer and enterprise software will blur.
  • Give up control, gain value.
  • Start small, grow bottom up. 
  • The question is not what new programs can do for us, but now that we’re enabled, what do we do together, better.

Now, my unedited, raw notes:

Intro Round:

  • Jeff Clavier
    Define Web 2.0:
    • Rich, easy-to-use user experience
    • Architecture for participation
    • Vertical Apps, mash-ups
Why these panelists:
    • Friends
    • Bloggers
    • Been living/doing Web 2.0 before they knew it
  • Jeff Nolan
    Expanding on definition:
    • Rich user interface.  Late 90’s move from client/server to Web-> gained access, lost usability (of interface)
    • AJAX. Scriptable client. Key is that developers use same tools that users can now have to extend functionality
    • Realization of SOA.
Having two different technologies for consumer and enterprise is nonsense. Web 2.0 technology started with consumers, as it matures, the line between the two will blur.
How do companies develop software: community concept.  Interesting example for partner effort:’s AppExchange

  • Charlene Li
    • Web 1.0: control was in center, by institutions
    • Web 2.0; small companies, few resources, power pushed to end-users.
Don’t need huge sharepoint installations, just use a wiki.
Business managers like it, IT fears it.  Ning ; do-it-yourself mentality.   Social Computing – Forrester report, being circulated, not exactly just to Forrester Clients (but that would be sooo 1.0!)

  • Ross Mayfield
    Introduces himself as “ross dot typepad dot com”  (but that’s only natural for someone who employs guys with names like Ingy döt Net  )

  • part open source
  • hosted system
  • appliance

Web 2.0 is People.  Ajax is a cleaning detergent. 🙂   Real change: how we sell software: bottom up.
Ad-hoc groups forming standards, foresaking institutions, e.g. mashup camp .

  • Mainframe: power to the Enterprise
  • PC: tool for individuals, personal empowerment. Create individually-> deliver, share.
  • Web 2.0: Create together

KM   failed us:  fill form -> contribute knowledge ->  some system magic processes, shares.  Now people have the tools, the social interaction and provide knowledge together.
You let go of control, get back value.


Q: Where is Web 2.0 in the enterprise today? Enterprise world living in the past.
Ross: It exists in email. Email is broken .  Occupational spam (CC; BCC).

Q: Can SAP, Oracle …etc absorb Web 2.0 ideas or will new companies emerge and displace them?
Jeff Nolan: History is against us, few companies make the transition.  But rules exist to break them 🙂  Today’s vendors invest hugely in technology. Story by Shai Agassi : CTO of Prcoter & Gamble told him if the SAP system goes down for 4 hours, it takes out the quarterly profit. 
Oracle is buying its own LAMP stack. They can only beat SAP by changing the game : removing licence revenue entirely… of course this is speculation only.  One could argue that Oracle and SAP are already in the subscription business: maintenance revenue.
Charlene: Microsoft is pulling pieces of Web 2.0 into Sharepoint.

Jeff Clavier: Enterprise tactic: as soon as there is a noted leader, they will make a move: acquisition.
Jeff Nolan: Sales is what’s broken, not the technology. Example: after SAP’s investment in Socialtext he receiveed dozens of emails from various groups inside SAP, who had already been using the hosted wiki,  just  hadn’t told anyone.

Q: VC’s don’t want to invest in Enterprise software …
Ross: Cycles back and forth.  Problem is the business model: 50-60% of cost is sales.  They have too much legacy in place.  Moore’s law does not matter. The disruption to watch for is not in the technology, but in the business model.  
Cost of personal publishing trends towards 0, cost of forming groups trends towards 0. Simplicity key for user experience.
Jeff Nolan: “lots of rounded boxes”
Ross: Wikipedia – no other software that gets a group of strangers together so effectively

Jeff Clavier to Charlene:  What will it take for IT to embrace web 2.0? 
Charlene: They ask: “How do I stop it?”

Q. (actually a remark) from an Ernst & Young Consultant: his Client is using Socialtext to document SOX compliance procedures.
Ross: Stages of penetrating a large Client:

  • small group using hosted system
  • IT starts having security concerns
  • get the appliance behind the firewall
  • CIO gets interested – > global use

Quote from Clay Shirky : Process is an embedded reaction to prior stupidity .
Clarification: transactions stay in SAP. We’re a conversation backbone, not a transaction backbone.

Q: Somewhat longwinded question, basically questioning the “Appliance” model, and outsourcing in general: “wholesale outsourcing is far-fetched”.
Ross: Appliance: it’s just a different way of SaaS, a matter of network topology.
Counter-example to the hosting Q:  One of the world’s top 10 companies want ALL their applications hosted.
Jeff Clavier: Look at some of the huge implementations.

Q: How will all Web 2.0 solutions work together? – e.g. put some Basecamp functionality into Wikipedia?  What’s the future role of a CIO?
Ross: Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, a huge investment bank appointed an Exec just to oversee usability testing, make sure all systems fit together.
CIO’s in the future will not only be concerned with driving down cost, but instead with driving innovation. They can go back to thinking more strategically.

Q: Flickr… etc are in the consumer space, Socialtext is a tool. What are the emerging applications for the Enterprise?
Q: Collaboration, but inside a “walled garden” is not Web 2.0, is it?
Jeff Nolan:  Brings example of blogging inside SAP,  IT was stonewalling, so he went ahead, bought a bunch of licences and started it himself.  But now he starts seeing “entrepreneurial” opportunities inside the corporation: if there is a large enough blogging community, he could start using Adsense inside. Basically it’s not about creating new applications, but discovering new opportunities.
Charlene: It’s not about tools, it’s about people, collaboration.

Q: How do I use my “old” transactional data in a wiki-type environment?
Jeff Clavier: Integration layers, RSS ..etc.
Charlene: RSS Transport, open formats…   Business managers can pick data, make his/her own “application”.
Q: (more a remark): Microformats: great, but not enough standards agreed upon.
Charlene: Give it a little time …

Q: Haven’t heard what problem Web 2.0 solves.. other than being a gateway to VC’s 🙂  What will it change?
Jeff Nolan: There is this mistaken expectation that whoever is doing Web 2.0 will do something new, change things.  It’s not “Web 2.0” , it’s YOU.
Ross: Do you interact socially online differently than before?  (yes, and a lot of commotion  from the audience).  There you go …
Q: (actually a remark) from the audience, that  sums up the essence of the night: “We just did  Web 2.0 here, getting an answer from the panel would have been Web 1.0, now you got 25 answers from all of us, that’s 2.0″ 🙂
Ross: Fostering of transparency will change management principles. 
Kids are doing homework on MySpace.
Jeff Nolan: Craigslist+Google Maps mashup: a third person brought it together, it was not initiated by Craigslist, not by Google.

Jeff Nolan: There are about 1500 major business processes in any company, of which 20 impact revenue.
Ross: Process going away.
Jeff Nolan: Disagrees.  (actually me, too .. or I am in between … but that belongs to another post)

Jeff Nolan: Value of IP is not in code, but in community -> Open Source.
Charlene: Enterprise has identity, authentication, reputation system, which does not exist out in the open – i.e. consumer space.
Ross: Build Wikipedia inside a corporation, a.k.a “SAPedia ”  Goes on explaining how Socialtext can give away a good deal of its software and get paid for related service.

Q: Will the Web be able to handle the incerased traffic?
Ross: On issue of Attention: I don’t have to read the New York Times, I have trusted friends who will refer to what’s interesting… point is, use feeds, subsrcibe selectively, use the “unsubscribe” button.

Q: On small businesses adopting blogs for marketing, for customer acquisition
Charlene:  SMB:  Office Live, Basecamp..etc  > not apps, but platforms.  Hosted Services.    (this is where I left the room for 5 minutes, if anyone has notes, pls, contribute…)
Jeff Nolan: We may think of a stripped-down giveaway version of CRM, supported by advertising. In fact, we could by our own ad network.

Q: (more a remark): Companies are run like command economies . Technology empowers workers to be more entrepreneurial.
Charlene: Mindsets will change. Enterprises need to start small, bottom-up.
Jeff Nolan: Quotes a story from SAP, when one of his employees new to blogging sent him a draft blog post for approval. “No, I don’t want to approve, just post it”

Q: We talked about enterprises adapting to new Web 2.0 technology. How about existing “old” products?  Is the current IT infrastructure a bottleneck?
Charlene: Everybody is using a browser, there is a lot of information in those sessison that we don’t know about, don’t share.
Ross: Just do it in a socially acceptable manner.

Q: Will viruses come to Web 2.0? What standards will safeguard community?
Charlene: Pollution comes with social interaction.
Jeff Clavier: Splogs: companies work together fighting it, in a collaborative way, not alone.
Ross: Blogs are individually owned-> individual policies for fighting spam.
Wikipedia is figthing spam not using some feature, but through human intervention, collectively.
Digg is another example for collective filtering.
Charlene: Comment-based reputation systems don’t work.  Pulling identiy info from various systems through API’s better.
Jeff Nolan: Microsoft gave up the Passport concept when they realized it won’t work.

Q: For time critical info, e.g. in Customer Support, how can Web 2.0 help?
Ross: There should not be escalation, the system should be better organized, i.e. wiki for Help Desk: make it available to more people, not jus the Help group.  A group of people have to agree on how to use it.

Q: (from a consultant): Web 1.0 made a lot of people rich.  Where is the money, what are VC’s investing in.. what should I start tomorrow?  (huge laughter in audience)
Charlene: VC’s keep on asking me the same. If I knew the answer, I would not be here 🙂
Concern: they all chase the consumer Internet… should look towards the Enterprise.
Jeff Nolan: Joshua Schachter , founder of is a good example, he was thinking more  like an investor than a founder … keen on building something he can scale up.
Ross: Entrepreneurism is just experimenting. Start small, use open source, build, test.  Company, business model, $$$ comes later. 
SugarCRM as example of disruptive business model
Jeff Clavier: Companies that are successful are all built around large communities.
Don’t try to be 10% better than and existing one, do something new.
Charlene: Nobody is providing Social Networking for companies. (debated by some in the audience)
Platforms are big, see NING.
Ross: NO! Start with an application, which becomes succesful -> then convert it into a platform

There was an endless stream of questions, the host had to cut it, due to time constraints.


It was a lively, intense discussion, special thanks to Prashant Shah , TiE SV Charter Member.  I am told the video will be available in about a week.

Update (2/17): Other Blogs on this event:

Update (4/10)
:  Jeff will moderate another session on the subject at IBDNetwork.

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  8. Kicked the ass of TIE 2005 🙂

  9. gotomeetingreview says:

    But when will we have web 3.0? 🙂

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