by C.G. Lynch

Grading Acceptance of Web 2.0 Technologies

Jun 19, 20073 mins
Data Center

Researcher Andrew McAfee gives high marks for Web 2.0 awareness, but urges enthusiasts to find more business arguments supporting adoption.

Andrew McAfee, a professor at Harvard Business School credited with coining the term “Enterprise 2.0,” doesn’t just grade students. Today at the Enterprise 2.0 conference, McAfee graded himself and the vendor community on how good a job they’ve done at getting Web 2.0-inspired technologies into the workplace.


Read’s tutorial, An Introduction to Web 2.0.

On spreading awareness of Web 2.0: A

McAfee awards an A grade for spreading awareness of Web 2.0 technologies, but software vendors shouldn’t take all the credit. Thank college kids. McAfee credits college students with really spreading the word about social software and doing the “heavy lifting” in terms of encouraging its future pervasiveness in the corporate space. They have emphasized the importance of the user. “The goal of people who want these tools to succeed should be to get out of the way; let people work the way they want to work,” he says.

On getting Web 2.0 technologies in the workplace: A-

McAfee says there has been excellent progress in spreading Web 2.0 technologies in the workplace, both by incumbent vendors (think IBM and its new line of Lotus collaboration tools) and startups and younger tech companies (think Google and its Google apps). By empowering users and allowing them to form communities with technologies such as enterprise IM, blogs and wikis, they are collectively using Web 2.0 technologies to improve communications and innovations across the enterprise.

On communicating the value of Web 2.0 technologies: C

McAfee believes supporters of Web 2.0 technologies need to gather a new trove of stories to bolster their contention that these tools are changing (and improving) the way people work. Though he didn’t mention the industry’s constant harping on the Web 2.0 favorites such as the Google story and the promise of search, Wikipedia, YouTube and MySpace, it was easy for his audience to reference them when McAfee called for new stories about business users of Web 2.0 tools.

“We use clear examples, but one of the things we can fall into is reaching back to those half-dozen examples over and over,” he says. These examples are often consumer-based and aren’t “from deep in the trenches” of business. In addition, he says companies that have taken a stab at demonstrating Web 2.0 technology value have over-exaggerated ROI to the point that decision makers can’t find their claims credible. “I don’t want us to come up with glowing ROI numbers. I don’t place any faith in them.”