Not Business as Usual

One of the aspects I love most about DEMO is the conversations. Unlike most technology conferences, DEMO has a casual, family-reunion-like feel to it. The single-track format allows attendees to relax and enjoy themselves. I think Chris’ gracious, laid-back attitude sets a precedent, one that filters down to every attendee. And just for the record, I had that opinion of Chris long before she started paying me.

So the conversations. Last night, I attended the NVCA dinner here at DEMO. The key theme of the evening was green tech and Chris and I had fascinating discussions with several attendees on ethanol, algae as a biofuel and the end of the world as we know it. (A good time was had by all.)

During her discussion with NVCA president Mark Heesen, Chris posited that market focus is now shifting back to the enterprise, that all the Web 2.0 innovation of the past few years is now coming into the corporation. This generated interest among several in the audience, one of whom wisely noted that the infiltration of Web 2.0 in a company tends to start from the bottom up rather than top down. As Chris mentioned in this morning’s opening remarks, users who’ve spent their evenings on Facebook, YouTube and Second Life are much less likely to come to work the next day raving about the new ERP dashboard.

I’ve been watching this trend over the past year, seeing more and more Web 2.0 technologies targeted to the enterprise. It’s an excellent way to expand revenue potential beyond tired contextual ads. Take the sophisticated algorithm you’ve developed and tested with a free user community and offer a licensed version that enables companies to experience the flexibility and collaboration of the next-generation Web. Everybody wins.

Of course it’s never that simple. Significant tweaking is sometimes needed to take a product in the enterprise direction, and client IT departments require ongoing support; they have a pesky habit of demanding peak performance for their money. There is also often an education component involved, as internal attitudes need to shift to accommodate the open attitude of Web 2.0. Despite the potential pitfalls, it is definitely a hot trend these days. I think it’s the tip of the iceberg too and am eager to hear more pitches in the coming months. Enlivened enterprises beget energized employees. Energized employees create great ideas of their own. It’s the eternal cycle of innovation and always a welcome sight.


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