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The debate is now raging. Is the economic downturn good news for Enterprise 2.0 (Web 2.0 tools used or adapted for use within the organisation)? In today's Financial Times the "good camp" are out in force with strong case study evidence from Procter & gamble, Shell and Airbus – plus a good helping of comments from Forrester, Silicon Valley venture capitalists and assorted consulting houses that the recession is pushing Enterprise 2.0 forward.

"A quiet revolution is taking place". That’s the message from Soumitra Dutta and Matthew Fraser, academics at the Insead business school in France and authors of Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom.

They detail how companies are busy integrating social networking into their corporate strategies. These companies, say the authors, are showing that the use of blogs, wikis, widgets and other Web 2.0 tools “encourages horizontal collaboration and harnesses the power of collective intelligence to boost productivity, foster innovation and create enhanced value". The authors say that they explore, in an objective and rigorous way, "whether the concept of Enterprise 2.0 can deliver real business benefits" and their answer is a firm "yes". 

This is interesting because on a trial run through we had yesterday for the upcoming programme of Digital Workplace Live, we had just that debate with Richard Dennison, one of the world's leading social software experts, responsible for Enterprise 2.0 within BT, and with Angela Huffman, similarly placed within Nokia. When asked how the recession was affecting 2.0 in their companies both said it was having a very negative impact with budgets cut and every new tool having to produce a clear business case- something that 2.0 has always struggled with.

BT are using a "skunk works" type approach to get new applications in under the radar with little spend (no bad thing perhaps) so 2.0 carries on. And the BT and Nokia views correlate with what I have heard in other large enterprises.

Read the FT and you would be inclined to think that any organisation resisting full blown 2.0 right now is treading a lonely path. But dig into the people cited in the FT and all have a vested interest in promoting that stance. Plus knowing the timelines on new books, the authors probably completed their content 6 – 9 months agao when we were in a very different place. I wonder what Shell, P & G and Airbus would say now, given lay-offs at Airbus for example?

The good news is that on Tuesday 3 February 1500 – 1700 GMT we will be looking into this whole issue at Digital Workplace Live, our monthly live global intranet programme, with this episode devoted to Enterprise 2.0. We will see live what Nokia is doing in terms of Enterprise 2.0 and also hook up live with Wyeth, and they are much in the news given the merger this week announced with Pfizer, who are actually hosting a "2.0" day within the company.

If you have not yet sampled one of our shows then you can request a free guest pass for next week….but these are limited as Digital Workplace Live is only for Digital Workplace Group Members and Digital Workplace Live Subscribers.

About the author

Nancy Goebel - DWG's Managing Director for Member & Benchmarking ServicesNancy Goebel is DWG’s Managing Director for Member Services. In addition to heading up service delivery, she is responsible for member engagement, retention and growth. Nancy also sits on DWG’s Board of Directors.

Prior to joining the Digital Workplace Group, Nancy was a accomplished executive at JPMorgan Chase where she built and led a global team in desigining and implementing an award-winning intranet. She also led digital enablement and business re-engineering initiatives.

Outside work, Nancy is a wine maker, fundraiser, meditator, wife and mother of two.

Connect with Nancy on Twitter: @nancyatdwg or on Google +.

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