How CIOs Can Introduce Web 2.0 Technologies into the Enterprise

Opening up corporate systems to new user-driven tools like blogs, message boards, and wikis requires both technology and culture changes, a leading proponent argues.

By Diann Daniel
Fri, June 22, 2007

CIO — One essential promise for Enterprise 2.0, or Web 2.0 for the enterprise, is making important information available to the people who need it, in large part by using blogs and wikis to capture and store institutional knowledge, says Dion Hinchcliffe, president and CTO of Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 consultancy Hinchcliffe and Company, during his session at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.

This means, for example, that when veteran accountant Sally leaves the company, her knowledge does not leave with her (an increasing problem as baby boomers retire). Enterprise 2.0 tools like blogs, message boards, and wikis also offer savings on training costs. For example, T. Rowe Price, which manages more than $349 billion in assets, hires about 1,500 workers to work in the call center just for tax season. In the past, each person wrote down his training notes, which walked out the door when he did at the end of the season. But with the implementation of a group blog and wiki that allowed for extensive commenting, recommending and tagging by users, employees were able to more quickly access answers to their questions. As a result, the company now saves one to two minutes per call at $20 per minute, Hinchcliffe says.

Unlike the top-down, centralized control of traditional software implementations, Enterprise 2.0 software implementation is powered by users; applications must spread virally from one user to the next in the way MySpace and YouTube did, or they will not work. In the world of Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0, the “if we build it, they will come” theory does not apply. For example, a blog can be created, but it is not until employees actually use it and post material, comments, links and tags that the blog has value (prepopulation does help, but it is simply kindling). Interest and participation from users is what creates success. That said, the enterprise is not the wild world of the Web; the enterprise must address workers’ fear of change, the need for openness, budgetary constraints and the need for new applications to work well with legacy systems. Hinchcliffe offers the following advice on bringing Web 2.0 into the enterprise:

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