A Buttoned-Down Web 2.0

Ann All

Web 2.0 isn't as edgy as it used to be.


Now even financial services firms -- among the most conservative businesses out there -- are experimenting with so-called Web 2.0 technologies.


Granted, the institution profiled in this recent Wall Street & Technology article is Wells Fargo, a company that is about as "out there" as such firms ever get, and technically savvy too, as evidenced by its Web site's strong performance in a Forrester Research survey of business-to-business sites. Still, it's a surprise to see Wells Fargo -- and other banks including Bank of America and KeyBank -- using blogs, wikis and RSS feeds.


According to the article, the blogs are among the most popular nonbanking pages on Wells Fargo's Web site. And RSS feeds are serving a number of wide-ranging purposes, from helping automate work processes to improving the quality of data warehouses to helping Wells Fargo gauge consumer perception of its brand.


The bank's attempt to capitalize on virtual reality technology with an online community called Stagecoach Island has been less successful. (Indeed, we didn't have the patience to wait for the page to load.)


A major concern for any company considering adopting Web 2.0 technologies -- but especially for banks -- is security. A Wells Fargo executive notes that about 80 percent of development and deployment time for the bank's tools is devoted to security measures, such as authentication and authorization.


Web 2.0 could gain further traction with financial services firms if IBM, one of the industry's most dominant vendors,has anything to do with it.

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