"Did you know that Wikipedia is editable?"
That's what one executive client recently said to Sandy Kemsley, author of the popular blog Column 2 and an independent business process management consultant specializing in BPM design, enterprise architecture and business intelligence.
Of course, Kemsley knew. As she relates in a recent Q&A with IT Business Edge, she gently explained to the executive that that's the whole point of a wiki.
This guy isn't typically quoted or even mentioned in the tech press articles about Web 2.0 technology. Instead, you, like Kemsley, are more likely to read case studies highlighting one of the companies that deployed a wiki for its entire intranet or the business that used a blog for its corporate Web page. These companies are cutting edge, and that's why they get the press. It's new, it's innovative and people are curious about it. But that doesn't even remotely suggest everyone's on board.
So, I don't think Kemsley's client is alone in wondering why anyone would want to build an editable site -- for employees, partners, customers and certainly not for the general public.
Yet wikis are probably the way most businesses begin to experiment with Web 2.0 technology, Kemsley said.
Meanwhile, a few floors down, young workers -- you know, the 20-somethings who cut their tech teeth programming their parents' VCRs and then moved on to maintaining the household PC -- are busy typing away on their blogs and possibly even an unauthorized wiki. InfoWorld quotes IDC research numbers showing 45 percent of companies have workers blogging and 35 percent of companies have employees using wikis -- and most of them are doing it without IT or corporate executives even knowing it.
That's not to say that business executives and IT are just a bunch of old fogies who need to get over it. Wikis and blogs are knowledge repositories, no matter how inane the knowledge or bad the grammar. There are also serious security and businesses issues to consider.
But perhaps the most frightening aspect of Web 2.0 technology is simply, as Kemsley points out, that it "shakes the entire foundations of corporate communications and can make management feel uneasy. All of a sudden, everyone has equal opportunity to have their say, whereas in the past, pronouncements and opinions came only from the executive level."
It may be that businesses will become more comfortable with Web and Enterprise 2.0 technologies -- which, really, seem to be the same technology tools but without being locked down within the business -- as more vendors offer "official" solutions using blogs, wikis and the like. That seems to be the logic at work in articles and vendor product announcements, as exemplified in this story about BEA's plans to release a suite of applications that can "govern" Web 2.0 technologies.
Well, the good news is everyone has some time to work it out before we move on to Web 3.0.
In the meantime, read what Kemsley has to say about how mashups will affect integration and -- yes -- her thoughts on the SOA/BPM debate. To be fair, I talked with her a good two weeks before the issue became such a hot topic on this blog. Still, I think she makes a good point when she says that the two "are fundamentally different from a technology standpoint."