My lesson from Enterprise 2.0: People are the weakest link

Posted on November 28th 2011

My lesson from Enterprise 2.0: People are the weakest link

I decided to use one of the main points Rachel Happe made during her keynote at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Santa Clara two weeks ago as the title of my post not only because I firmly believe this, but also because it surfaced in almost every session I attended. You can access the rest of the Enterprise 2.0 keynote presentations here.

Many (smarter than me) folks have already blogged about the event (and you can find many of the posts here), but I also wanted to provide my four big takeaways that I saw repeated in many of the Enterprise 2.0 keynotes and breakout sessions:


  • It’s NOT about the technology: While many of us are still fixated on social media as being the next shiny object, the successful companies are the ones viewing social media as a means to an end and not an end in itself.  They are working on the (very tough) problems to embed social media in their core business processes and change behaviors in their companies and not how to increase their Facebook fans and Twitter followers.
  • You HAVE to fail in order to be successful:  While this sounds like an oxymoron, the reality is we are so early in the social media journey and despite what some may tell you, nobody has the answers.  If you don’t fail, it means you are not trying hard enough.  The key is to fail fast, but forward and learn from your mistakes.  You can read my last point on an earlier post I wrote about success in social media here.
  • You HAVE to be persistent:  Yes, this is related to both my earlier points; in order to be successful with social media you have to tackle the hard problems and keep trying.  True success in social media comes with a lot of hard work. Companies present at the conference that are taking the long view on creating sustained relationships with their customers, like Genentech, Dell, Nokia, and yes SAP (my employer, who embarked on this journey 8 years ago) are seeing measurable results, but these results have come after significant investments and time.
  • Technology can add value, but you HAVE to strive for simplicity: I wrote about the mistakes enterprise social media vendors are making last January.  VMware’s Tim Young shared a story during his keynote, where apparently a Fortune 100 customer asked for 450 new features to be developed for them, because their ‘business was very complex’.  Unfortunately, in today’s emerging social media space, most vendors are too willing to please us with our feature requests, when in reality we don’t know what we need yet.


What do my fellow Enterprise 2.0 conference participants think?  How do these compare to your takeaways?



Ted Sapountzis

Ted is an enterprise technology veteran, student of Marketing 2.0, entrepreneur, angel investor and aviator.  He most recently led marketing and product management at NextPrinciples, an enterprise software startup helping companies extract true value from social media.  Prior to NextPrinciples, Ted was VP of Social Marketing at SAP where he led many of the company's social marketing initiatives. Ted was previously a management consultant with McKinsey & Company and has spent most of his career helping companies leverage analytics to optimize their operations. You can connect with Ted on TwitterGoogle+ or visit his personal blog here.

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