Increased Investment, More Implementations Expected for Enterprise Web 2.0 Technologies

Forrester says big organizations will adopt user-friendly tools like RSS, social networking, blogs and wikis to encourage internal collaboration.

A Forrester report released this week predicts more enterprises will adopt Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, wikis, RSS and social networking tools. The report attributes the increased interest to IT workers who have found uses for the technologies themselves, and the realization by executives that barring these technologies from the workplace hampers their employees' ability to collaborate.

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"A lot of CIOs and CEOs are starting to get the message that employees want these tools," says Oliver Young, the Forrester analyst who authored the report. "There also isn't a good way to stop them from using them."

During the next year, about 18 percent of the 1,017 IT decision makers at organizations with 1,000 or more employees surveyed say Web 2.0 will be a priority and an additional 6 percent a "critical priority." Forrester expects at least half of the 42 percent of respondents who say Web 2.0 isn't on their agenda to add it to their priority list before 2009.

The Web 2.0 technologies that can expect the biggest bump are RSS and enterprise social networks. About 12 percent of the survey respondents, who were from North America and Europe, plan to implement RSS, while an additional 15 percent will pilot or consider an investment in the technology.

The report described RSS as contributing to a "publish and subscribe" IT architecture, which allows users to decide what enterprise content they want pushed to them, either to widgets that run atop web-pages or their e-mail boxes. As information gets pushed to one portal, users won't have to toggle between applications as frequently. Enterprise RSS companies such as KnowNow and NewsGator Technologies should benefit from the interest, Young added.

Meanwhile, enterprise social networks should garner additional interest, buoyed by their popularity in consumer space (most specifically with Facebook). About 7 percent of enterprises say they expect to implement social networks for their employees, while an additional 13 percent says they will pilot or consider an investment in the technology.

Young says one of the big reasons for interest in Web 2.0 technologies stems from IT workers embracing them to help with their own jobs. "A lot of open source projects get worked on over a wiki," Young says. "So their familiarity with these tools is big."

Wikis and blogs continue to gain speed in the enterprise. About 13 percent of enterprises planned to implement wikis, while an additional 16 percent were considering a pilot or initial investment. Nearly 11 percent planned to add blogs, while 16 percent will consider it.

Perhaps most significant to these technologies success, however, rests with the people who write the checks for them, says Young. CIOs and CEOs, who have watched Web 2.0 technologies grow in the consumer space, realize they can't prevent workers from using them on the web. Accepting that reality, they are acknowledging they can meet the needs of users by offering enterprise versions IT can more easily administer.

For companies worried about integration with old back-end systems, Young says they will gravitate towards and Microsoft SharePoint and IBM's Lotus Connections social software suite. For companies looking to control costs, they might gravitate towards smaller social software vendors like Jive Software, Awareness, and Atlassian.

"There are low cost options out there," Young says. "Some of the integration may not be there with all of them, and some of the bells and whistles won't be there either, but they're much less expensive."

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