Next-Gen Jim Rapoza

Opinion: Enterprise 2.0 products are pretty much the same old thing.

Its the latest and greatest new thing! It will solve all your technology problems and save you time and money! Its not only a big productivity booster, but its also cool, l33t, wicked awesome—whatever the cool kids are saying nowadays.

Its Jim Rapoza 2.0!

So what is Jim Rapoza 2.0? Its sort of like classic Jim Rapoza, but it uses all the technologies, products and trends that are getting the most press and attention right now: blogs, RSS, wikis, podcasts, social networks and so on.

I know what youre thinking: Isnt that just classic Jim Rapoza with some new functionality thrown in? And really, Jim, youve been in this technology writing game for a long time now. Shouldnt we be up to something more like Jim Rapoza 7.0?

All these things are true, sure. But they also illustrate why you, dear reader, have no future in public relations, marketing and general self-promotion. Linking yourself or your products to some cool new technology isnt really about doing something new; its mainly about providing the illusion of doing something new.

You see, I hit upon the idea of Jim Rapoza 2.0 after I started seeing the term "Enterprise 2.0" time and time again in recent months. Like you, I thought, Enterprise 2.0? Come on! Enterprise technology is pretty darn old. I mean, if it had versions, wed be in double digits by now.

Also, when I looked at the products that were being positioned as Enterprise 2.0 solutions, I thought, Whats the big deal? They typically seem to fit into one of two camps: Either the Enterprise 2.0 product is a classic enterprise product, such as a document management system or portal, that has added some Web 2.0 features, or it is a standard Web 2.0 app, such as a blog or wiki, that has added features so its a little more enterprise-friendly.

When I first looked at these supposedly new and radically updated products and services, none of their improvements struck me as being all that major. And, in the past, when products went through much more radical changes, no one saw a need to rename or reposition whole product categories—for example, back in the 1990s, when classic enterprise systems became Internet- and Web-capable.

But then I realized I was thinking like a technologist and an IT guy and not like a marketing and sales guru. Sure, an IT guy looks at these products and thinks, Whats the big deal? You added some common-sense capabilities, and now you act like its this whole new thing?

But these savvy Enterprise 2.0 companies arent pitching their products to IT professionals. Smart and capable IT people tend to be a little boring when it comes to enterprise systems. They are more than happy to stick with an older but solid system rather than move to some newer system for fairly minor new capabilities (especially for capabilities that often easily can be added through third-party and free open-source products).

Instead, the Enterprise 2.0 pitch is directed at businesspeople, who often are not very technology-savvy but are increasingly controlling the IT spending at their companies.

Lots of these people come from the sales side, and lets face it: The people in sales today were often the cool kids in high school.

Its like the kids today who will drop hundreds of dollars for the latest iPod, even though lesser-known MP3 players often offer more features and capabilities. They know its not about actual value; its about being seen with the white earbuds. When these people grow up to buy IT products, they dont want to be seen as some loser with old products. They want the latest and greatest—they want Enterprise 2.0!

Put me down as a believer anyway. Sure, some of the sensible-shoe grandma types might say Enterprise 2.0 products look pretty much like the same old thing. But, by adding those two little numbers, I, like the Enterprise 2.0 vendors, can send out press releases and present myself in the marketplace as if I were actually doing something cool and radical.

So, say hello to Jim Rapoza 2.0 because hes here to stay. Well, at least until some other new technology trend comes along. (Next-Gen Jim, anyone?)

Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at


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