Enterprise Blogs Could Be Sweet, Too

Interesting exchange last week about Intel‘s new SuiteTwo product, announced at the Web 2.0 summit, which is an appliance (hardware) bundled with solutions from:

Josh Bancroft, an Intel employee, and self-described “Technology Evangelist and Geek Blogger,” was fairly critical of the launch announcement. Josh critiques the product for being proprietary and expensive, pointing out that free, open source tools are available to accomplish the same goals. In essence, he criticized Intel for operating in a traditional product development mode rather than the new Web 2.0 paradigm: offering a web 2.0 product wrapped in web 1.0 clothing:

Do you know what all of that feels like to those of us who actually get excited about arcane, geeky ideas like having company-wide blogs and wikis? It feels like a big company trying to embed their marketing axe in our heads, and manipulate us into convincing our bosses to spend the money on these tools. Thanks, but no thanks.

Josh’s post is well worth reading on its own, as a critique of companies trying to continue to operate in traditional proprietary software models, but it’s especially worth reading given that Anil Dash (from SixApart) responded in the comments.

Anil’s reply hits a few defensive notes – “I think you need to step back a bit and realize you’ve got nothing to prove by dissing an Intel project while working at Intel” – but the great majority of it is a well reasoned and thoughtful response.

In essence, Anil argues that, in order to get enterprises to understand the world of wikis and blogs, we need a combination of new and old methods:

I know exactly what it feels like to those of us who are like that: I’ve worked on spreading the word about blogs in business all day every day for four years. I’ve literally spoken to tens of thousands of people about this topic in person all over the world. We’ll use every tool at our disposal to get new people blogging, and it’s not going to happen simply by us blogging about it and letting geeks download the code. It’s going to take every tactic we have to cajole companies, kicking and screaming, into using these tools. And it’s too important a cause to risk not using traditional media and the channels that are familiar to these audiences.

In other words, rather than carrying the coals to Newcastle, or preaching to the converted, we need to be able to operate in traditional ways enterprise buyers understand.

(Side note on carrying coals: Lord Timothy Dexter, one of the most infamous former residents of the town where I live, actually made lots of money exporting coal to Newcastle during a coalminer’s strike.)

So is Intel the new Lord Dexter? Is the combination of applications with SpikeSource support enough to move boxes of Web 2.0?

In trying to bring the consumer-driven, participatory, agile, small-pieces-loosely-joined, open-source driven nature of Web 2.0 to Enterprise IT, do we risk becoming assimilated?

Will Web 2.0 remake the Enterprise or will the Enterprise remake Web 2.0 in its own image?