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More (final) thoughts from Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston

Where are the users!?!?! No, seriously. There have been a few guys on stage presenting their companies’ Enterprise 2.0 strategies. Some are very interesting. Some, not so much. But I thought this was the big year. So how come I’ve got one vendor complaining to me that he got one lead yesterday. He needs something like five to seal the deal. I ran into a guy from Florida this morning who is looking for a social networking platform for his company. He hasn’t found one he liked, though. Everybody else is just like me, which is to say they’re here to write and talk about Enterprise 2.0, not to use it.

Speaking of, can you imagine a conference show full of vendors with no one to sell to? I’m imagining some no-rules Lord of the Flies thing, where they all pitch to each other while trying to knock their brethren off their booths. It’s madness down there.

This morning brought a parade of keynote speakers talking about their great Enterprise 2.0 successes. A lot of it was basic “We put up blogs and wikis and now everyone communicates better, isn’t that great” sort of stuff. But Ned Lerner, director of tools and technologies for the division of Sony that makes PlayStation games, was really worth seeing. Lerner benefits from working with a group of game designers. As he put it, the toughest part of Enterprise 2.0 work wasn’t convincing employees to use blogs and wikis, it was convincing employees to use the company’s blogs and wikis.

But where other presenters looked skyward and talked of the coming communication revolution, Lerner got right down to it and explained what worked and didn’t work for him. Open source was a must, he said. These tools all need to interact – single sign-on, single user interface, single user directory, etc. So it’s great to have a collection of little Enterprise 2.0 tools. But in-house developers need to be able to mess with the code as necessary.

“We learned to be very shy of what looks cool and new on the outside,” he said. “Open source has been the safety net because if it doesn’t work, you can fix it.”

Lerner also said be ready for many, nay, infinite rounds of testing. There were a lot of small stumbles upon the way, but checking out every last thing pulled the Sony group through. He also says he realized significant ROI when it was all under way.

Thing is, Lerner was soft-spoken and seemed a bit shy. He didn’t really make any corny jokes. So about half of the attendees left the room when he started speaking. Their loss.

Wrapping up, and I mentioned this yesterday, but it bears mentioning again. The Wi-Fi here at the Westin Waterfront hotel in Boston is still acting up. I fought it for about 20 minutes this morning before abandoning it. There was some issue with access codes and hotel staff were passing out new ones. A colleague of mine left early, somehow managing to drop me an email that the logistics were horrible.

None of this Enterprise 2.0 stuff works without connectivity. And if connectivity here was spotty, it will be elsewhere. There’s a lot of really cool, really innovative stuff at this show. But it is useless without a back end.

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