Yesterday I attended the first full conference day of the Enterprise 2.0 Conference and I spent most of the day in the exhibit hall. The number one piece of feedback was, “I’m shopping around for social business software, there are a lot of vendors selling this stuff aren't there?

Is Enterprise 2.0 on its Way Out?

Ray Wang, former Partner at Altimeter Group and current VP and Principal Analyst of Constellation Research, an analyst firm debuted during the Enterprise 2.0 conference, tweeted “Wondering if the #e2conf will be named #socbiz next year. Agree w/ @dhinchcliffe and @hrry . naming shift is coming.

And in looking at the event this year, he’s not kidding. But most of the evidence of this shift to social business is not only be in the content but in the types of vendors in the exhibit hall.

And Social Business on its Way In?

John Todor, CEO of the Alliance for Business Innovation, told me at the event “Most companies are looking to create the next great thing.” He told me companies are not capable of dealing with change and complexity. “It changes the rules of business.”

And with these social tools and shift in consumer behavior, the game has shifted.

Todor said, “It’s about producing innovative business processes using collaboration and collective intelligence.”

Mat Fogarty, CEO of exhibiting vendor Crowdcast, an internal collaboration tool, was at the event to also check out how companies are dealing with this change and complexity. But he’s just as curious about the other vendors as the people tracing through the exhibit hall.

Crowdcast is a tool that allows people to anonymously contribute to the internal ideation process. The product changes how people think about productivity, management and the knowledge worker.

E20 this year had a noticeably bigger footprint from the social business software vendors -- even more so than previous years.

Are We Ready to Be Social?

I spoke with a woman named Monique Hodgkinson, Marketing Consultant at Screen Caffeen, who told me she has been in the industry for 25 years.  She told me that under 40 percent of companies have gone beyond the wiki phase of adopting social media beyond their internal strategy. She said, “there are a lot of companies that are focusing on how to move corporations forward [into social business]. “

From what I saw today in the exhibit hall, we are still very early, spending most of our time explaining what the product is -- how it works -- its strengths and limitations, and emphasizing a focus on education and training. It will still take a long time to change people’s mindsets.

There were quite a few non-Enterprise internal collaboration attendees who were there to educate themselves on vendors and offerings. One woman I met was Erin Elton, Vice President at PR firm Gutenberg Communications, who told me she was at the event to better educate herself on social business software solutions and social business in general. She said her clients, many of whom are senior level CEOs, still “want to be featured on the Wall St. Journal or interviewed on major television networks.” But she also added how they don’t understand the ROI of these PR activities are a drop in the bucket compared with social marketing strategy.

The consensus today seemed to be a company has to internally embrace internal collaboration before they set up customer facing communities. The draw of one stop shops for all business needs is attractive, but few are going to do this right away. See you at E20 today as the fun continues!