Letters from the Front: is Europe ready to embrace the 2.0 change?

It is without a doubt that the changes that are happening right before our eyes in the consumer world, are affecting more and more the enterprise world in ways that we have yet to comprehend completely.

The power shift to the end user is clear to (almost) any marketer. Creative ways of leveraging social media are part of the news almost daily.

Corporations have started to realize that it is not a matter of “if” this change has to be embraced as much as “how” and “when” it will be embraced.

In my 15 years of experience in the internet industry with American High Tech corporations, I have witnessed very often a situation where European firms have waited to be in a “comfort zone” before adopting a new technology especially when it significantly changes the way the company operates. There are obviously many exceptions to this, most notably in the mobile space, but as far as internet is concerned we are used to have the US lead the way.

While most of the Social Networking technologies come from the US, the shift to Cloud Based services has significantly lowered the entry barrier for anyone who wants to “bravely” venture in this Enterprise 2.0 new world. The playing field is leveled and Europe (Governments, Institutions and Enterprises) has a chance to set the pace on how businesses are transformed to become the Networks of the future.

There is a good amount of pioneers in Europe among Institutions and Enterprises. My goal in this blog is to talk about them and give my small contribution to accelerating this transformation by sharing news, views and ideas from the Old Continent.

I will start by sharing a case that has become widely popular in the past weeks.

Eurocontrol is an institution that most people are unfamiliar with or simply know their name. For those of you who have never heard about them,

Eurocontrol, the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, is an intergovernmental organization made up of 38 Member States and the European Community.

This organization has been pushed in the spotlight at dazzling speed when the now famous as unpronounceable Iceland’s Volcano started to erupt stranding thousands of travelers across the globe. Until April 15th 2010, only few “geek” travelers were even thinking about following Eurocontrol on Twitter. Ever since THE Volcano erupted, Eurocontrol has gathered more than 10,000 followers and has helped keeping thousand of people informed on the critical situation more than any other media could do.

As a company BroadVision was personally affected by this event as the eruption happened on the last day of our company kickoff in Redwood City, California. By constantly following Eurocontrol and creating an emergency community for all “stranded” employees, we were able to communicate on status, whereabouts, new bookings and itineraries.

While this probably did not get us home much earlier (Social Networks can’t yet defeat the force of Nature although they can greatly help learning from it), it definitely helped alleviating the sense of being lost far away from home.