According to this ZDnet Between the Lines blog post Enterprise Web 2.0 predictions from Forrester, 2008 might be the big year for Web 2.0 in the enterprise. Blogs, wikis and social networking are on the priority list of over 24% of the enterprises surveyed. There is speculation that the 42% who didn’t have it on their priority list would take action before the end of 2008 as the result of pressure from inside the enterprise and from without. RSS and internal social networking would see the greatest growth. Two things mentioned in the summary of the Forrester report are Microsoft’s SharePoint and Web 2.0 endorsement from the IT department.
If you are a large Microsoft shop – SharePoint is a logical step into the world of collaborative work-flow. Is it true Web 2.0? Not yet – but it allows enterprises with an entrenched Microsoft product software base to move to supporting the culture of Web 2.0 – collaboration. For a history of SharePoint check this out. It is a sound product built on solid technology. SharePoint is not a bad product, but it is Web 2.0 according to Microsoft – a late player in the world of Web 2.0. They resisted all things from this new world of the web for the longest time. Saying it is now Web 2.0 doesn’t necessarily make it so.
Another point to keep in mind, is that it feeds the Microsoft business model. In order to make it work properly you need to invest in other Microsoft technology (if you haven’t already) such as .NET, SQL server, Front Page, IIS, Windows Server 2007, and the list goes on. This is why it makes sense for a large enterprise which has a huge investment in Microsoft technology – from the desktop to the server – to implement SharePoint. It also provides great support for Microsoft’s partners – training centres, certification exams, designers, integrators and installers. The Microsoft posse! Not a bad thing for the larger enterprise, but how does a small or medium enterprise move into Web 2.0 without a huge investment (expenditure) in Microsoft?
Consider taking the true Web 2.0 route via open source or alternative products. There are many to choose from and they work well. You will spend less initially and avoid being subjected to Microsoft’s sometimes painful and often expensive version change path. This direction allows you to grow your Web 2.0 strategy according to the trends in the wider world of Web 2.o and not according to Microsoft’s vision of the road ahead.
A quote from the Forrester report deserves careful consideration, “…for IT departments aspiring to be more relevant to the business, enterprise Web 2.0 tools will be a high-impact, low-cost method to show leadership and innovation.” This is a topic for a separate conversation, but here are some things to think about. Does your IT department (assuming you have one) support Web 2.0? Recent history shows that they don’t. A longer view of history shows that quite often the people using the technology ultimately drive the adoption of new technologies within the enterprise. Either through requests and lobbying to IT departments or (most often) just using it. Evolution versus revolution. Should your IT folks (internal or external) make the decision on whether or not you use Web 2.0? There are many elements of Web 2.0 that make IT managers break out in a cold sweat – security, manageability, access to private data and these are just at the top of a long list. The use of Web 2.0 causes other business units in your enterprise to have sleepless nights as well. The world of Web 2.0 is a very powerful and productive tool. It only makes sense for a small or medium or large enterprise to make it work for their people. If your organization wants to use these tools then you should ask (and then tell) your IT folks to make it work.
The good thing about this report comes from Forrester’s status in the world of IT management. Many CIO’s and IT managers take their direction and cues from the trends reported by Forrester. Now that Forrester is talking about Enterprise Web 2.0 as a viable business technology they are giving it their stamp of approval. We should now see some forward movement on Web 2.0 in the enterprise. That’s really good news!
Don’t forget, the world of Web 2.0 goes beyond wikis, blogs, podcasting and social networking – but for now they are a good first step into the future.