By: Becky Bracken

Like Nikola Tesla's Power Tower dream, tomorrow's Enterprise 2.0 customers have a view of the world that includes a practically free, limitless supply of power right at their fingertips, wherever they are. Can you become a Telco Tesla for your customers?

The Enterprise 2.0 revolution is coming and network convergence will have to continue to accelerate to keep up. Social enterprise applications are expected to grow into a $9 billion market opportunity by 2016, according to an October 2011report from Forrester Research ( Communications Service Providers (CSP's) of all stripes will need to decide where to stake out a position.

In just a handful of years, work will be seamlessly integrated into an employee's everyday life, on a single device, providing the flexibility, increased collaboration, efficiency and global access today's businesses demands. Social enterprise applications that run over powerful, converged networks will put everything a worker needs to do their job, right at their fingertips, wherever they are.

Endless accessibility and maximum security is a tall order. Oh, and by the way, it's got to be cheap and smart enough to appeal to the on-demand, smart-phone-wielding, Angry-Birds-playing, wireless-downloading, Facebooking , Tweeting Gen Y consumer. No pressure. Just remember what happened to Netflix.

It's this technically sophisticated, fickle market that will continue to push convergence and challenge service providers to provide seamless reliability–and endless bandwidth–across multiple networks. The potential payoff is a hefty slice of a multi-billion-dollar market. There's plenty that's still uncertain about the future of network convergence and how CSP's will ultimately adapt to the Enterprise 2.0 revolution. So how can you be ready? Here's what you need to know.

Behold The Power of the iWorker

Ultimately, how convergence evolves to truly meet the demands of Enterprise 2.0 applications will be driven by consumers. In the past, IT departments were the early adopters of business technologies. Not so today.

With more than 40 million Generation Y employees in the workforce, technology isn't just a business tool any more. With the pitter-patter of thumbs on touch screens, this generation thrives in a connected world. These information workers, or iWorkers, are out there, on their own, looking for technology to help them be more flexible and efficient in both their work and personal lives.

An August 2001 Forrester Research report titled "Information Workers are the New Buying Center for Enterprise Technology" concludes iWorkers are motivated by low-cost solutions with clear benefits. iWorkers are happy to use their personal smart phones, social networks, tablets and other devices to help make them more efficient workers, regardless of whether they are supported by their employer IT departments. And as these business solutions are adopted by the employee, it becomes the role of the IT professional to integrate them into the existing business technology architecture.

So what does that mean? The winning Enterprise 2.0 solutions will be cheap, pay-as-you-go, and work well enough to be sought out by individuals. This in turn, will lead to more formal adoption by IT staffs. This fractured adoption also increases the importance of creating and maintaining open architecture that supports a whole range of devices and applications.

What Business Wants: Everything

If attracting the iWorker isn't challenge enough, enterprise has become a more demanding consumer too.

"The key for telcos will be to make sure that there is an end-to-end quality customer experience across the network, application and business layers in order to cater to growing customer demands," Sarah Wallace, a telecommunications analyst for Heavy Reading says. Forrester Research released an August 2011 survey that reveals 37 percent of IT decision makers planned to enhance the use of social collaboration tools in 2011 to do three things:

  • Capture and reuse knowledge
  • Maintain human connection across disparate workers
  • Meet workforce demands
The report identifies IBM, Jive, NewsGator and Teligent as the current leaders in the space.


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