Andrew McAfee Keynote: Threats to Enterprise 2.0 [#e2conf]

Andrew McAfee discusses Threats to Enterprise 2.0: Old-Fashioned Bosses and New-Fangled Computers.

[These are my notes from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2011 in Boston.  Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error.  Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Why has E2.0 Succeeded?This group of technologies meet a deep-seated business need: they help companies know what they know. They connect digital resources and brain resources. (McAfee quoted Lew Platt, former CEO of HP: “If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive.”) It also must a deep human need: to be part of a community that you define and to have a voice within that group. Further, the number of bad incidents resulting from the freedom provided by these tools remains wonderfully low. In this case, trusting your employees has resulted in people behaving as mature professionals.
  • Old-Fashioned Bosses They believe that productivity depends on a hierarchical organization with close supervision. They believe it is a more rational, linear, non scary approach to management. By contrast, the networked organization terrifies them.
  • New-Fangled Computers. McAfee reminds us about IBM’s Watson playing Jeopardy. It should make us nervous about E2.0, because it sits upon document and makes sense of it based on a new set of algorithms that don’t rely on data relationships and linking to identify sense and relevance. (By contrast, E2.0 depends on network, relationship, network, linking.) Theoretically, the power of Watson allows old-fashioned bosses from turning off the network and social software, deploying instead these supercomputers working in isolation.
  • How do we save E2.0?Switch from using it to respond to questions whose answers are findable in a knowledge base. Computers can do it faster and better. Instead, use social software to help create “Eureka” moments. Focus on answers that require innovation and creativity. Focus on the areas in which humans have a comparative advantage over computers.