Best Web 2.0 Advice: Make Sure It Solves a Business Problem

Ann All

When evaluating Web 2.0 technologies, most companies tend to focus on security or control. But instead of asking themselves questions like "Could this expose sensitive data?" or "Will our IT department flat-out refuse to support it?" maybe what they should really be asking is, "Will this solve a business problem or create a new business opportunity?"


D'uh, right? Yet as I wrote back in November, folks like Harvard Business School's Andrew McAfee have pointed out that many companies appear more interested in maintaining the status quo than in adopting technologies that may require them to adjust -- or at least to examine -- many of their longstanding business practices. McAfee took particular offense at an "Impact Assessment" table included in an InformationWeek article that gave equal weight to Web 2.0's impact on the IT organization, the business organization and business competitiveness. It's the old story of companies somehow losing sight of the fact that IT's purpose is to enable business, and instead treating IT as if the inverse is true.


I found a post on that sums this up nicely. It's written more for Web 2.0 entrepreneurs than potential Web 2.0 customers, thus the title Enterprise 2.0: Where the f$#@ is my market? (And it substitutes the term Enterprise 2.0 for Web 2.o, which is a whole other discussion, as this post on the FASTforward Blog proves.) But it offers some great advice for those considering Web 2.0 technologies. Namely:

What specific problems in your organization could benefit from a blog-based approach, or under what circumstances would a wiki solve a real headache. What I am saying is: Turn off the noise and get down to work. Don't trumpet Enterprise 2.0, talk about those real problems. When you find or solve a problem then you should talk about it not in terms of Enterprise 2.0, but in terms of an agile, low-cost approach. This makes sense to a lot more people.

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May 3, 2008 8:29 AM Robert Robert  says:
I have found that it is really hard for IT or a line of business to quantify the return on a Web 2.0 investment like blogs or wiki's. However, if you look at Web 2.0 as a set of principles and concepts (as was originally intended) then you'll find there are other ways to drive business value. Ways that allow IT to maintain control, keep things secure and demonstrate a measurable ROI. For example, Unified Communications shares a number of core principles and concepts with Web 2.0. By turning business leaders on to this it becomes a great opportunity for adoption and a great way to kick off a sustainable Web 2.0 strategy. Reply
May 7, 2008 9:53 AM Jaime Arango Jaime Arango  says:
Some IT departments only try to make more complex the IT environment and try to get the attention of CEO, to get more budget and look important, but they are not really trying to solve the problems of business units and give them the tools to make more money and improve.IT departments has to be more efficient and intelligent ti give value to the company. Reply
May 7, 2008 10:55 AM Jennifer Duryea Jennifer Duryea  says:
What can Web 2.0 do for your organisation - The Mashup SolutionSerena Business Mashups are the killer application for SOA and web services. Instead of relying on highly-skilled developers for all SOA work, non-programmers can visually assemble composite applications, called Mashups, using a simple, drag-and-drop user interface.By enabling more people to assemble applications, IT organizations can focus on core competencies, while enabling those closest to the business needs to rapidly create innovative applications based on sanctioned building blocks.Using Serena Business Mashups you can: Address the ever-growing backlog of application requests by enabling non-programmers to assemble applications from existing building blocks. Allow widespread innovation while maintaining IT security, audit and uptime requirements. Automate common business activities including activities that span different groups (such as HR and finance) or applications (such as Salesforce and SAP).Please visit Reply
May 8, 2008 5:44 AM Dr Vikram Venkateswaran Dr Vikram Venkateswaran  says:
This is an interesting comment. The problem as someone rightly pointed out, is the difficulty in estimating the return on investment. A lot of organisations would therefore be reluctant to adopt Web 2.0. I have mentioned this on my blog on siliconindia about the oppurtunity for organisations to use web 2.0 as a tool for co-creation. This would enable the customer to be more directly involved with the process of creationfo a product or service. For referrence Reply
May 12, 2008 4:24 AM Chris Tolmie Chris Tolmie  says:
It may be easier to look at particular examples from differing industries. Banks have moved from "The Branch of the Future" to more predictive communications with customers and prospects. In this way the Web 2.0 applications in use can actually be shown to drive customer loyalty (easier to communicate, proactive service) and increased customer transactions. Do this analysis by industry type (it will vary) to determine the business case. Reply

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