There is a mind-numbing amount of information in the public domain about how Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 will change the world for ever. This article attempts to provide an entrepreneur’s perspective on these trends and distill the key issues with a bit of common sense. The term Web 2.0 was first coined by Tim O’Reilly to denote a new breed of Internet services companies. The key traits of companies in this new breed, according to O’Reilly, were:

  • They were platform plays. E.g. eBay & YouTube
  • They had a social networking component. E.g. MySpace, Skype & Amazon
  • They had community driven content. E.g. Wikipedia & eBay
  • They released users from the software development lifecycle, meaning that users would access Web 2.0 services using a simple web browser. In tech-speak, this is called Software as a Service or Saas

Whether the above differentiators really warrant a new category or not is debatable. One could easily argue that these basic characteristics should have been incorporated into most, well thought-out “Web 1.0” Internet companies that were launched in the mid 1990s and that we are only now coming around to fully understand the implications. Nevertheless, Web 2.0 is a handy way to characterize these companies & somewhat comprehend the implications.

From its consumer underpinnings, Web 2.0 evolved over 2005 – 2006 to take on an enterprise flavor. Terms like Me, Inc., Prosumer and Enterprise 2.0 have been used to describe companies adopting this approach. Examples of companies in this space include SalesForce.com, SugarCRM, NetSuite etc. The case that is being made here is that business services can be delivered using a consumer model to professionals, hence the Prosumer go-to-market strategy. According to Philip Lay at TCG Advisors, the cornerstones of Enterprise 2.0 are

  • Software as a Service or SaaS
  • Service Oriented Architecture (SOA, read Web Services) and
  • Open Source Computing (E.g. Ajax)

Philip rightly points out that now (2007) is not the time for us to get overly excited about Enterprise 2.0. We are not going to see Fortune 500 companies jump onto this bandwagon and move all their front & back office applications to an Enterprise 2.0 model in a big way. What we will see is niche solutions being brought to market with this model, focusing on narrow audiences & their key business problems. Over the next decade or so, the broader Enterprise 2.0 market should pick up a good bit of steam.

OK, now for the entrepreneur’s perspective. My thoughts on launching an Enterprise 2.0 start-up:

  • It is seductive to get caught in the jargon / tech-speak and draw analogies with companies with eBay, Google & Amazon. Have been guilty of getting caught in that trap myself on several occasions. Instead of getting carried away with technologies and analogies, focus on pressing business problems that your core audience loses sleep over today
  • Deliver compelling, comprehensive solutions & value propositions to these critical business problems. How will you get your target audience what they need faster, better, & cheaper? SaaS & Web2.0 are just enablers. How will you deliver highly targeted, personalized, context-driven business services to individual professionals? How will you incorporate “mass-customization” into your solutions?
  • Ensure that there is a large market for the solutions you are offering and that you have a scalable plan to get to the finish line



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