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Exploring Social Collaboration and Enterprise Architecture In Oslo, Norway: A Trip Report

I spent the early part of this week in Oslo, Norway, a guest of Bouvet and the Norwegian Computer Society, there to help them drive forward some discussions on next-generation subjects in IT and business.  Specifically I was asked to present our latest findings on social collaboration and enterprise architecture, two of my favorite topics as many of you know. 

We also brought our Enterprise 2.0 Masterclass from Web 2.0 University  — the next one is in Munich in October — which I delivered on the first day. For the second day I gave the opening keynote on the subject of Enterprise 2.0 to the Kunnskapstinget 2009 conference in the morning. Then in the afternoon I presented our new findings on the evolution of software architecture to Bouvet’s enterprise architecture coucil.

As I spoke about and discussed a wide variety of technology and business topics in Oslo with dozens of people, I was keen on learning the state of both social computing and enterprise architecture in Norway, a country that is small (only about 4 million residents) but has often had an outsized impact on technology and computer science in particular.  For example, Turing Award laureates Kristen Nygaard and Ole-Johan Dahl are Norwegians that are credited with inventing object-oriented programming, an approach that’s become the foundation of most modern programming languages — and consequently Web development — including JavaScript and Ruby.  There are many other similar examples of Norway’s advanced state of technological adoption.

I was consequently fascinated to see if the latest developments in Web 2.0 have had a broader impact this far north and I was gratified that I was able to get a pretty detailed picture as you’ll see.

The State of Social Collaboration & Enterprise 2.0

My keynote on the second day was less than an hour and I had a lot to share.  The real challenge in presenting these ideas is that so much is going on in the social computing space right now that it’s hard to keep up with the latest developments and sort out what’s really important.  I’d already presented the previous day on the latest developments in Enterprise 2.0 including subjects like community management, top cultural challenges, a review of 70+ social software platforms, and patterns and best practices in general, but that took an entire day.  So I kept focused mainly on key points:

  • About half of all companies have social tools now, but are just now grappling with how to use them.
  • It’s not only a new way to communicate and collaborate, but a fundamentally different one that can deeply change the way we work.
  • That many issues surrounding social tool adoption break down into the issues of risk, control, and trust.
  • There are a number increasingly well-understood reasons why Enterprise 2.0 will work better than older tools.  One of them, the Enterprise 2.0 communication continuum was particularly well tweeted during the conference.
  • Often we have a failure of imagination when it comes to using social tools.  I cited the famous KatrinaList example of the power of emergent systems that naturally derive from social media to provide the solutions to critical human problems.  I made the point that we have many opportunities like this passing us by routinely in our enterprises but we don’t have the mindset to take advantage of them.  We must transform our thinking, but this will take time.

You can view a video of the keynote itself captured via Qik as well, I start speaking about 5 minutes into it.  I also got to meet Leif Henrik Husom, who presented some fascinating new findings in an afternoon session from a major survey of social media adoption in Norway that was formally unveiled at the conference.  He generously offered to translate the slides on the fly into English before he got up to speak and I present them to you here for the first time.  The key data is on slide nine. In particular the datum that 6 out of 10 enterprises have decided to adopt social media in Norway, while only 1 out of 4 believe that management really supports it.  Lots more data for those that are interested below:

Summary of Norwegian Social Media Adoption from Kunnskapstinge – September 2009

View more presentations from Dion Hinchcliffe.

Improving the Practice of Software Architecture

My last session in Oslo was a 3 hour meeting with local enterprise architects that was sponsored by Bouvet.  Listening to many of the challenges and concerns I heard made me realize that that it’s much the same around the world: Aligning IT with the business side is very hard and more and more time these days is spent on the technology treadmill keeping the business operating instead of focusing on new opportunities.  We are sometimes too reactive instead of proactive when it comes to software architecture, but now I’m beginning to think that is opportunity in disguise.

I’ve been exploring in detail how to “fix” the challenges we have with enterprise architecture recently and writing up what I’m finding in terms of new possibilities. Many of the new approaches are ones we’re seeing coming from the living laboratory of the Web, such as the move from traditional SOA to open Web APIs and their associated business models. You can find my thoughts both in Fixing Enterprise Architecture: Balancing the Forces of Change in the Modern Organization on ebizQ and Pragmatic new models for enterprise architecture take shape on ZDNet. I summarized this and much more in my presentation, which you can find below.  Overall it’s starting to become clear that just as with social collaboration, enterprise architecture is about to be transformed by the significant business, cultural, technical, and societal changes at the edge of our networks.

Transforming Software Architecture for the 21st Century (September 2009)

View more documents from Dion Hinchcliffe.

All in all it was an informative and interesting trip and I’d like to especially thank Åsmund Mæhle from Bouvet and Renny Amundsen, CEO of EUCIP in Norway (European Certification of Informatics Professionals), for their excellent hosting. 

I’ll continue to be traveling extensively across North America and Europe this fall to talk about these subjects. You can find a complete list of my upcoming presentations and talks, both online and offline on my updated speaking schedule. I’d also love to get feedback on these topics and hear about what your seeing in these areas.

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