15 November 2006

Office 2.0 Conference 2006

(belatedly published;stolen from my work blog)

I attended the first Office 2.0 Conference. The conference burb is -

What is Office 2.0?
Imagine a computer that never crashes, or gets infected by a virus. Imagine a computer onto which you never have to install any application. Imagine a computer that follows you wherever you go, be it at school, at work, abroad, or back home. This computer does not exist today, but it will in the future, and this future might be much closer than you think.

Here are my notes and comments, starting with the Top Three Things (in my opinion).

  1. Office 2.0 is a poor name, since it invites parity with MS Office. Work 2.0 is probably more accurate, since we should truly be looking to change how people work not just the tools they use. Work 2.0 reduces the disadvantages of being small, but not the disadvantages of being big.
  2. There is a continuous mention of the generational shift in expectations about work and collaboration. In general look for reduction in email usage, expectation of continuous connectivity, and comfort in working as part of several distributed teams at the same time.
  3. Some companies have banned email attachments and shared drives, forcing the use of wiki's and/or sharepoint. This reduces security risks and allows the discovery of documents by others. Interesting !

Keynote by Ester Dyson

  • Why do people at conferences work feverishly on their laptops during the presentations ? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of being there ?
  • We are at the beginning of the beginning of the Work 2.0 revolution.
  • Dyson has connectivity as a big issue. This is brought up again in almost every session. I think this problem will vanish (at least in the 1st world) in the next few years with the common usage of cell modems and wimax.
  • The big win right now is in coordination of activity and effort. This reduces the latency in the human equivalent of the SYN SYN ACK handshake.
  • Dyson is big on the software having business rules encapsulated in it. I disagree as content is hard enough to get explicit. Maybe the software can get smart enough to implicitly infer business rules.
  • Work 2.0 reduces the disadvantages of being a small business, but not the disadvantages of being a big business.
  • Continue to look for the innovations to come from the consumer side.
  • Collaboration lacks a grammar. When it has one it will be much more useful.

Enterprise 2.0 Keynote by Andrew McAfee

  • Enterprise 2.0 is currently used to make "ad-hoc-cracies".
  • Enterprise 2.0 needs to making the barrier between structured tasks (think SAP) and unstructured tasks (think email) more porous.
  • Studies indicate people over value current things by a factor of 3 and under value potential things by a factor of 3. So make sure your cool new thing in 10 times better than what they have already if you want it to succeed.
  • The big deal is that Enterprise 2.0 make communications persistent and accessible to others.
  • Enterprise 2.0 sets up some conflicts. Control versus empowerment. Fiefs versus communities.

Office 2.0, Where are we ?

  • 10 people from SAP at the conference and 8 from Microsoft. But 2 from a small bicycle company looking to become just a bit more efficient.

One Day in the Life of an Office 2.0 Worker

  • Mashup standards emerging. See something about Simple Ajax Mashup here.
  • Gmail is down and a few demos don't go so well.
  • Thinkfree has a Google Docs type product that we could host internally.

Collaborative Document Management

  • Alfresco profiles content to suggest reference material and subject matter experts.
  • Office 2.0 is a good opportunity to re-define *what* a document is.
  • Ease of use is critical to increase the pathetic adoption rate (~5% even in tech companies)

Evangelizing Office 2.0

  • Why bother ? Because Office 2.0 is scary to Corporate IT, has *fewer* features, and is a painful to use right now.
  • The two big factors in Office 2.0 rise will be the expectations of the upcoming generation coupled with frustration with traditional IT.
  • Office 1.0 is about "personal" computing. Office 2.0 is about "collaborative" computing.
  • Office 2.0 embraces the chaos of the real world.

Managing Blogs and Wikis in the Enterprise

  • Blogs are for temporal information where the value degrades over time. And they clearly have an author.
  • Wikis are for long lived content that undergoes continuous improvement. And has muddled ownership.
  • Blogs and wikis will likely eventually overlap to the point they become indistinguishable.
  • The big power of a wiki is that it is *not* a document. Like the Internet, the value in a wiki is less in the content and more in the links and the evolution of the links.
  • Ward Cunningham (wiki pioneer) would intentionally have minor errors on pages to encourage other's to make a correction. Once they made one edit, each subsequent edit became easier.

Making Office 2.0 Enterprise Ready

  • SOA is a prerequisite to Office 2.0
  • To succeed, Office 2.0 needs a simple value proposition.
  • Maybe the question is instead - 'Is the Enterprise ready for Office 2.0 ?"
  • Lots of dissent on the panel on whether Corporate IT is friend or foe.
  • Business user greatly empowered and Corporate IT and the CIO *must* participate to achieve long-term business success.

Making the Transition to Office 2.0

  • Back to "What is Office 2.0?". Is has to be *less* than "some business application delivered over the network".
  • Office 2.0 drives connectivity to true utility level.

You made it to the end of this lengthy post, so here is a link to Dan Farber's blog about the event on ZDnet. It has much better pictures than mine.

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