Versions Compared


  • This line was added.
  • This line was removed.
  • Formatting was changed.
Comment: Migrated to Confluence 4.0

What is "Enterprise 2.0"? - Defining the term

Harvard Business School professor, Andrew McAfee, who gave birth to the term "Enterprise 2.0", defines it as follows:

"Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.

  • Social software enables people to rendezvous, connect or collaborate through computer-mediated communication and to form online communities. (Wikipedia's definition).
  • Platforms are digital environments in which contributions and interactions are globally visible and persistent over time.
  • Emergent means that the software is freeform, and that it contains mechanisms to let the patterns and structure inherent in people's interactions become visible over time.
  • Freeform means that the software is most or all of the following:
    • Optional
    • Free of up-front workflow
    • Egalitarian, or indifferent to formal organizational identities
    • Accepting of many types of data"

For a great introduction to what Enterprise 2.0 is about, see Andrew McAfee interview(s) What is Web/Enterprise 2.0 on YouTube.

If you wish to explore some truly intelligent ideas and thoughts on where the enterprise information technologies are headed in the future, I highly recommend to dive into prof. McAfee's blog. The blog provides great insights into the underlying phenomena behind the current and future development processes fed by the Web 2.0 phenomenon. Now, also companies are really waking up to the fact that these new tools and ways of thinking about information architecture (e.g. SOA) might truly help them, not only to "enhance collaboration, innovation, information findability, social networking etc.", but ultimately also to generate as much value to their owners as possible. This is extremely vital, as all successful change has to have a purpose, and "To make them collaborate" is NOT a real purpose!

  !AntTeamwork.jpg|thumbnail,align=right!It is important to notice that Enterprise 2.0 doesn't only mean "the use of social software in companies", but also has a fundamental people-aspect to the term. It is not merely about the technology, but encompasses a whole culture. To sum up, Enterprise 2.0

  • promotes collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration in the "extended enterprise", meaning companies, their partners and customers
  • is rapid and agile
  • it has a low barrier and dynamic nature
  • does not deliver it out of the box, but provides capabilities that an enterprise can choose to leverage.

Prof. McAfee portrays Web 2.0 era as the time when technologists woke up to the fact that people want to use technology to interact with each other and concurrently produce something new and good. Enterprise 2.0 era, then again, begins when business leaders wake up to the same fact and join them. This, as said, has already slowly begun. Firms, and other organizations such as universities and research groups, are experimenting on these new tools, including Wikis, Blogs, Mashups, Predictions markets and other social software, and what's more, the results have been encouraging. Companies like IBM, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco Systems have, in addition to deploying them in their own operations, also spotted great business opportunities in developing the tools further to better serve organizations, instead of only the public, as Web 2.0 tools have mainly been used until lately.

Frameworks for Enterprise 2.0

The next sections (SLATES & FLATNESSES) are direct quotes from: AIIM Research - Enterprise 2.0: Agile, Emergent & Integrated (available at


As stated previously, Professor McAfee offers a framework, which goes by the mnemonic SLATES, that outlines the key characteristics of Enterprise 2.0 and provides a finer-grained definition of Enterprise 2.0

SLATES stands for Search, Links, Authorship, Tags, Extensions, and Signals.

Search denotes that Enterprise 2.0 content should be subject to discoverability. Search technology must be provided to enable both facilitated and automated location of content, so that it can be reused and leveraged. This aspect stresses therefore not only the ability to find content, but also to collaborate around it and incorporate it into other work processes and intellectual endeavors.

Links refers to the ability to create interconnections between content. This functionality ranges from content integration (e.g., Mashups) to pointers, such as hypertext links. Links make it easier to repurpose content and garner greater value from it, as well as create navigation paths through content.

Authorship is largely focused on usability. The premise of authorship, as defined by McAfee, is that every worker should have access to Enterprise 2.0 platforms, without any required training. Interaction with the system should be low-barrier.

Tags refers to the use of metatags in dynamic fashion to identify the relevancy of tagged content. Tags create a taxonomy, or several taxonomies, and can be combined to create a Folksonomy (See Tagging) Tags can be used to capture individual and collective opinions on the value of content, a form of knowledge in itself, which can also be used as a navigational path through content in a manner similar to links.

Extensions leverage technology to uncover patterns of user activity. These patterns are then provided as further insight into the knowledge base. Extensions can extend a search into other areas based on similar searches and user behavior, (e.g., "Users who have searched on this topic, have also looked at this.")

Signals represents the use of technology to push content to interested parties. Signals makes the Enterprise 2.0 system proactively collaborative. For example, users can subscribe to a particular Web site and as changes are made to the site, the new content is pushed to the subscribers automatically, keeping them in the know. (See e.g. RSS)



The SLATES framework was expanded upon by Dion Hinchcliffe in 2007. Hinchcliffe's framework by definition fully encompasses SLATES, but adds four additional key characteristics to Enterprise 2.0. Like McAfee, Hinchcliffe developed a mnemonic, FLATNESSES, to illustrate his framework.

FLATNESSES stands for Freeform, Links, Authorship, Tagging, Network-oriented, Extensions, Search, Social, Emergence and Signals. Thus, the four characteristics added by this framework are Freeform, Network-oriented, Social, and Emergence.

Freeform stresses that authorship, described as low-barrier in SLATES, should be "no barrier", i.e. free from a learning curve or restrictions. It also includes open, low-barrier approaches to signals and integration (modular programming) and stresses the need for freeform interfaces to functionality.

Network-oriented states that not only must the technology platform be Web-based, but that all content must be Web-addressable. Thus, network-oriented provides additional rules on authorship and links and proposes the potential development of a blogosphere within the enterprise.

Social stresses transparency (to access), diversity (in content and community members) and openness (to structure) need to be core values of the Enterprise 2.0 environment. It is interesting to note that in this facet, the cultural side of Enterprise 2.0 is stressed as much as the technical.

Emergence stresses that the platform must provide approaches that detect and leverage the collective wisdom of the community. This is perhaps a bit redundant, as SLATES does identify functionality that includes emergence.

See also