I spent two days last week at the Office 2.0 conference organized by Ismael Ghalimi. The first thing to say about it is that it is truly amazing what Ismael can put together in 6 weeks. As someone who has organized 60-70 conferences, my amazement and respect for what Ismael accomplished, while not unique, is probably more pronounced than others’.

What is “Office 2.0”? As far as I could tell the consensus in the opening panel “The Future of Work” (and in other sessions) was that it referred to any office-in-the-cloud tools, including but not limited to replications of Microsoft Office.

I would say “Office 2.0” is differentiated from “Web 2.0” by having mainly a business focus, and is differentiated from “Enterprise 2.0”, at least in terms of this event, by being more about the technology than the effects of its deployment on enterprise practices. There was some gentle push and pull between Microsoft and Google on the relative importance IT/workflow/regulations versus end-user/real-time-collaboration. When pushed on what they would be adding to future work environments, both Microsoft and SAP stressed the importance of business social networks.

Though not a business social network, in spite of a growing number of professionals using it that way, Facebook was discussed throughout the event. There was much hand-wringing and disagreement over whether people would combine their personal and professional activities, contacts, and information for the world to see. I find it hard to fathom, but it is clear that there are a number of people who are happy and eager to do this. However, just as we’ve said about enterprise blogging, it is important to separate the technology from the way it is used, and there is a big difference between using a tool with social computing-like functionality inside a firewall, and the way people use Facebook. I don’t think there is any doubt that social-computing technology has a large and important role to play in enterprises. Note however that the Facebook generation does not necessarily agree!

Ismael gave an in-depth presentation on his exclusive use of “Office 2.0” tools for organizing and producing the conference. This was a fascinating case study. I have to say that after hearing about Ismael’s experience I don’t think we are quite ready to try this at home, mainly because of the integration issues. We will look at some of the individual tools though. In fact, as Ismael warns, integration is in general the main gotcha for enterprise use of Office 2.0 technology, both between the new tools and between Office 2.0 tools and existing enterprise applications. Ismael describes the event and its organization as an experiment, given what was learned, it was surely a successful experiment.
(See some the the announcements from Office 2.0 at: