What exactly is the difference between “Social Business” and “Enterprise 2.0,” if there is one?

The question came up at in a Quora discussion, and asked again by Ross Dawson in one of his latest posts.

It’s semantics, but important semantics. Many articles and papers are using the terms interchangeably.  You may recall it was Andrew MacAfee who first surfaced the term “Enterprise 2.0″ back in 2007 as a way to describe the application of Web 2.0 approaches and thinking to enterprise settings, but separate it from the consumerist fanfare.

For his part, Ross sees Social Business as an emerging way to describe the transformation that organizations are undertaking as part of their Enterprise 2.0 activities. Enterprise 2.0 as a term may have a more technical cast to it.

In the Quora discussion, our colleague Jevon McDonald also saw Enterprise 2.0 in terms of the tools and Social Business as the outcome:

“Enterprise 2.0 represents a set of technologies and methodologies for IT implementation inside the enterprise. A Social Business uses Enterprise 2.0 software to implement internal social process but also accounts for things such as: external social presence, supporting process, HR issues, policy development and governance.”

Stowe Boyd echoed similar sentiments:

“A social business is an organization designed consciously around sociality and social tools, as a response to a changed world and the emergence of the social web, including social media, social networks, and a long list of other advances. Enterprise 2.0 is generally used to represent the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies — like cloud computing, social media, wikis, and the like — and is, as such, principally a technology adoption issue, and not a reconceptualization of business operations.”

John Tropea, on the other hand, sees Social Business as the journey to reach Enterprise 2.0. E 2.0, he says, is more the idealized end state — Enterprise 2.0 is a concept and strategy to do business a different way…  a more transparent workplace, two-way communication, networked/activity centric overlayed on the present process-centric and blended with hierarchy.” As he puts it:

“With social business design we may reach a state of enterprise 2.0 eventually.”

So which comes first — Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business?


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