Back in November, I wrote about a Forrester Research study that made much of the fact a quarter of non-IT executives said they selected tech tools on their own or more often than their IT executives, with 25 percent of them also negotiating directly with the tech vendors or managing vendor relationships.
At the time. however, Forrester predicted these numbers would fall fairly quickly, since the business wasn't especially eager to assume tech-buying responsibilities.
It looks as if the tide is already turning, with more IT departments apparently taking an increasingly active role in evaluating and purchasing Web 2.0 technologies. According to a Computerworld story about the research, 63 percent of IT pros say they expect Web 2.0 technologies to have a moderate or significant impact on their businesses over the next three years.
Says Forrester analyst G. Oliver Young, who authored the report:
I am having fewer and fewer discussions with lines of business saying, 'We need help to get around our IT department.'
IT pros are growing more accepting of tools such as wikis, blogs and RSS feeds, says Young, because their personal usage of these tools is growing. Not surprisingly, however, junior IT staffers tend to be more familiar with Web 2.0 tools than senior management.
While 80 percent of respondents say that IT is funding Web 2.0 projects, Forrester drops that number down to an estimated 60 percent, because of the line-of-business projects it thinks are still happening under IT's radar.
Measuring ROI remains a "prickly" topic, says Young, noting that 22 percent of respondents have not measured the business value of Web 2.0 technologies. The most popular methods of assessing value are traditional measurements such as ROI, employed by 41 percent of companies, and employee productivity surveys, used by 27 percent of companies. Says Young:
It is very difficult to sit down and create that traditional ROI measurement where you can talk dollars and cents. The benefits are softer benefits ... a lot of productivity benefits spread over a lot of different resources.
There appears to be a clear relationship between awareness of tools and their perceived business value. Among the strongest performers in the survey: discussion forums, with 70 percent of respondents saying they yielded moderate or substantial business value; wikis (67 percent); and podcasts (62 percent). Earning fewer votes of confidence were mashups, with 41 percent of respondents saying they provide business value, and tagging (42 percent).