This week, I’ll be attending the Office 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Most of my colleagues and friends gave me quizzical looks when I told them about the conference, wondering why on earth I’d want to go to a conference about Microsoft Office. Office 2.0 may be about a lot of things, but it’s most certainly not about a certain well-known suite of programs from a company in Redmond.
So what is Office 2.0?
For starters, it’s the name of the conference described on the web site as “…a collective experiment organized every year in San Francisco, CA and aimed at discovering the future of online productivity & collaboration. It is a unique gathering of visionaries, thought leaders, and customers using innovative online services for getting things done at the office, at home, and on the go.”
Wikipedia describes Office 2.0 as “…a marketing neologism representing the concepts of office productivity applications as published applications rather than stand-alone programs. The term leverages the Web 2.0 concept to conjure imagery of collaborative, community based and centralised effort rather than the more traditional application running on a platform locally.”
So just as Web 2.0 embraces the community and user-generated content, Office 2.0 explores new ways of working in a primarily online, collaborative environment.
I’ve seen firsthand success with collaborative online communities, particularly with the online, community-centric approach Fluor has taken with knowledge management. Distributed ownership, administration and accountability, coupled with a culture that encourages every voice to be heard has proven to be not only extremely effective, but essential to success.
In the spirit of “eating your own dogfood” the conference is paperless. Instead, each participant is given an HP 2133 Mini-Note running Linux, with wireless access to all of the tools necessary during the conference: Google Apps for email and calendaring; ClearSpace for discussions, blogging and publishing; Zoho for presentations and so on. On Wednesday, we will split into teams and respond to a simulated enterprise crisis in which we’ll put all these tools to work to solve the problem.
I’m looking forward to meeting others who are applying these concepts to support their business strategy, and learning innovative ways to stimulate similar success throughout the enterprise.
Probably the largest challenge to Office 2.0 is breaking down the barriers put up by IT Czars and establishing trusted, reliable ways to work outside the firewall and in the cloud. Most enterprises are leery, and rightly so, of putting their eggs in someone else’s basket. It will be interesting to see how other companies are tackling this issue.
Check back here and via Twitter, and I will keep you posted throughout the week from Office 2.0.