The Tide is Turning for Enterprise 2.0 Adoption

Steve Wylie, General Manager for Enterprise 2.0 conference set an optimistic tone for the keynote speeches at the inaugural event in San Francisco, California. In his assessment of the current state of Enterprise 2.0, Wylie highlighted that the industry is maturing and it is no longer the domain of startups. Large players like Microsoft are leveraging their enterprise expertise and knowledge to move into this space.

Another observation he shared was the rise in professional services, which signifies the shift as enterprises move from the technology phase into adoption and implementation phase.

Tammy Erickson, President, nGenera Innovation Network, started with a bold and optimistic prediction that 2010 is going to be the year of “A-ha” for the enterprise executives who have been struggling with E 2.0 all this time. She outlined the challenges to Enterprise 2.o adoption,

For executives, E2.0 is like tsunami wave that’s overwhelming, they can’t figure out how to manage (basic, yet) critical issues like data security.

However, Erickson went on to say, that’s changing as executives move beyond the technology and understand the true business potential for this event. She also reiterated the need for executives to adopt and promote collaborative behavior to encourage E2.adoption in their organizations. She pointed out a huge shift in behavior where the E2.0 discussions have moved from technology/tools  to  serious dialogues on business implication.

Christian Finn, Director of SharePoint Product Management, Microsoft followed up with a mock “speed dating” skit designed to highlight that the software giant is serious about E2.0 with the addition of truckload of social features to SharePoint 2010.

The skit itself was wholly uninspired but what was very intriguing was the promise to deliver the best of both worlds. On the ”social” side, Microsoft’s promising a slew of social features like streaming podcasts, real-time news feeds, ratings, commenting, and even social tagging. All backed by the company’s experience and expertise in enterprise software and content management system.

SpeakerAndrew McAfee, Principal Research Scientist from MIT Sloan School of Management followed up with a stellar speech on what the champions of E2.0 are doing wrong.
McAfee said the tide is turning on E2.0 adoption as the success stories and case studies continue to mount. However, the evangelists are doing a huge disservice to their cause by attacking  the enterprise because they should be working with the Enterprise 1.0 advocates rather than against them. Trying to replace them will just create more barriers to E2.0 adoption.
 
In their effort to be fair and transparent, many E2.0 vendors and champions over-emphasize the negative aspects and thereby scare off  the decision makers. The positives far outweigh the negatives and that’s something the champions need to constantly reiterate.
 
McAfee pointed out something that’s very obvious to the end-user but often overlooked by the vendors and that’s to keep things simple. E2.0 champions often fall in love with the features without considering whether or not it works for the end users. McAfee was emphatic,
“Your customers don’t need more bells and whistles”
He also cautioned the audience against the pitfalls of advocating and creating walled gardens within the enterprise because E2.0 is about collaboration and these silos defeat the purpose. 
 
Another key point he highlighted was the attempt to replace the email was self-defeating because E2.0 and email serve two different purposes, to try to replace email was futile because for all its flaws, email works okay for most enterprises.
 
Another critical flaw he pointed was overuse (abuse) of the word “social”, as that word has a negative connotation for business leaders. He gave the example of executive who made it very clear that,  ”I am not running a social club, I am running a business.”  So, champions need to make sure they don’t oversell the social features of E2.0 but rather focus on the business implications for an effective pitch.
 
The last (but not the least) speech was from Rob Tarkoff, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Business Productivity Solutions at Adobe. He also started off with a provocative statement that,
“”Enterprise Software is Failing”
According to Tarkoff, the full potential of E2.0 has yet to be realized. He gave a real example of how social web can be used in a very traditional industry like healthcare for real-time collaboration and provide exceptional service to end consumer. He went on to say how Adobe’s focus is on creating end-to-end user engagement while giving due attention to the “on ramps” or the devices that consumers use to access the information.

Nintendo Wii mainstream marketing woes

While Nintendo Wii sales continue to outpace the Xbox and PS3 machine sales, the Wii games aren’t doing that well, says New York Times.

Nintendo_2

Typically, the discussion in the tech world revolves around how to get your product into the mainstream, but Nintendo has an unique dilemma. Its hardware has gone mainstream, but this demographic is not as fanatical about new games as is Nintendo’s hardcore gamer base. The NY Times says,

"Some major retail chains — including Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us — have already begun bundling the Smash Bros. game with Wii machines for sales online, a sign that the base of hard-core gamers who went looking for the game has been depleted."

The initial marketing of the Wii gaming platform was phenomenal, everyone and his grannie got themselves one. However, this demographic is content with one or two games. There’s no fervent desire to own every new game on the market, unlike the typical gamer who’s craving the next new game. The NY Times says,

"The average Wii owner buys only 3.7 games a year, compared with 4.7 for Xbox 360 owners and 4.6 for PlayStation 3 owners, said a Wedbush Morgan analyst, Michael Pachter."

I think this is where competitors like Microsoft and Sony have an advantage. While the sales of their game hardware may not be as spectacular as the Wii, but they will probably make up for it in their new game sales.This is where marketing genius of Nintendo falls short, it hasn’t devoted as much as effort in marketing its games to this broad demographic as it did for selling the hardware. Mainstream market requires mainstream/traditional advertising. It definitely needs to put its money where it’s audience is. I mean how likely is the typical mom and pop crowd to go to 1up.com or any other gaming site? Not very.

I can’t tell if the ‘mainstreaming’ of Wii was a strategic decision or Nintendo just stumbled onto it. While, this move could alienate Nintendo from the core gamer base but on the other hand, I think it is carving out an unique market positioning which might serve it well.

Ps3_2

If you look at the site design, marketing for PS3 and Xbox (both hardware and games), their relative market positioning is very clear.

Xbox_2 

No prizes for guessing which one is aimed at the young male gamer and which is squarely aimed at geeks. 

It doesn’t matter what your positioning is, as long you have one and it’s very clear in your marketing and product development.  So what’s next for Nintendo? The company is no longer going after the hardcore gamer crowd. It’s launching Wii Fit, an exercise game designed for the couch potatoes and soccer moms, ie. the Oprah crowd. Mr.Pachter says,

“It’s definitely aimed at the Oprah crowd. I bet they sell a million units a week for every pound that Oprah says she lost on it.”

If the increase in revenue from this new ‘Oprah’ demographic makes up for the loss in revenue from the average gamer (new game sales), then this positioning might just pay off for Nintendo in the long run.