Enterprises Can Get Web 2.0 On Their Terms

Is there no stopping the march of Web 2.0 apps into the enterprise?

 By David Needle
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SAN FRANCISCO –- Ready or not, blogs, wikis and other Web 2.0  apps are finding their way onto corporate desktops, notebooks and smaller mobile computing devices.

Users love these largely free applications so much that they're bringing them into the enterprise -- often without the knowledge or approval of management or IT staff.

"It's become a control problem," Kim Polese, CEO of SpikeSource, told internetnews.com. "A lot of companies are surprised to find out how many Web 2.0 applications are being used by their employees."

Which is not to say there necessarily has to be a showdown between competing interests. Blogs and wikis can be great tools for collaboration, personal expression and promotion for a company.

Dan Bennett, director of application technology at Thomson , told internetnews.com that his company's wiki now gets more hits than the official portal. Bennett spoke to internetnews.com here at the Web 2.0 Expo. "What corporations want is control," said Bennett.

Intel  has worked with SpikeSource and others to address the control issues with the SuiteTwo product. The integrated set of "Enterprise 2.0" applications includes services for creating and managing blogs, wikis, and RSS feeds. The latest addition to the suite, a new social networking service called Visible Path, was announced here. SpikeSource provides a single source of updates and support for the open source applications that make up SuiteTwo.

SuiteTwo also offers a level of portability not seen in many other commercial applications. "You can get your data in and out in largely standard formats," said Ross Mayfield, CEO of Socialtext, the leading enterprise wiki vendor and part of SuiteTwo.

Joe Schueller, an innovation manager in Procter & Gamble's global business services organization, said portability is a big benefit of these kind of applications. "It's a long term total cost of ownership" advantage, Schueller said in a panel discussion here.

With over 135,000 employees worldwide, Schueller said P&G is largely "a command and control" organization that isn't ready to open the floodgates to blogging and wikis. "We're doing a lot of experiments to understand what will work best."

Another panelist, David Meyer of BEA , said his company's recently launched AquaLogic Ensemble provides IT with a layer of control on top of applications like wikis, managing who can access them. "It allows the culture of participation within boundaries," said Meyer.

But there are also cultural and generational issues that will probably require more than a technology solution. "I hear it every week, someone saying 'You can't [post] that because they think it's going to undercut their authority," said Meyer.

Schueller of P&G agreed. "There is a generation and expectation gap," he said. "You talk to someone whose been successful in one operating paradigm who says 'How do I limit this information to the people who need to know' versus someone who can't wait to tell everyone what they just did."

This article was originally published on Apr 19, 2007
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