Industry Week published an interesting package on 2.0 technologies for its July issue. The content is already online. It's a good package, and I recommend you check it out. And if you're skeptical about the term Web 2.0, the package includes a working definition.
This piece looks beyond high-tech companies such as SAP to discuss how manufacturing companies, including Procter & Gamble and Boeing are deploying 2.0 technologies.
The two main drivers seem to be knowledge management and the creation of new products. For knowledge management, many companies are using 2.0 technology for "crowdsourcing." Basically, that means they're tapping the collective intelligence of their organization or even experts in the industry outside the company, as is the case with some research groups. You might say crowdsourcing extends knowledge and process integration beyond the corporate walls.
There are examples of business uses for every type of 2.0 technology, from the more obvious - reading user hack blogs for ideas on new product features - to the edgy - creating mashups to simplify the sales-force automation process.
SAP Vice President Doug Merritt reports that SAP workers use 2.0 technology - blogs, wikis, and so on - to integrate structured and unstructured data.
The article points out that Web 2.0 solutions don't have to be custom-made. Big-name companies such as SAP, IBM, and some smaller 2.0 niche players offer tools that can be customized or used as-is for integration.
I admit, I was a bit surprised at how many companies are using 2.0 technologies externally. It's a no-brainer to use Web 2.0 internally, but there are obvious risks to using it to extend corporate research or to provide a public space for customer input. But according to the sidebar on adoption rates, 70 percent of executives surveyed by McKinsey reported they use 2.0 technologies to communicate with their customers.
The other interesting finding was that 61 percent of executives said they'd prefer to purchase Web 2.0 tools as a suite from a big-name vendor. That seems odd to me, since so many of these technologies are cheap or free.