Despite its lack of a precise definition, Web 2.0 is becoming a major influence in the corporate world. The theme of a good number of stories published this week in association with the Enterprise 2.0 conference that was held in Boston is that IT personnel can't stop the tide and, if they know what is good for them (and their careers), they shouldn't try.
Much of this is due to the fact that youngsters filtering into the workplace expect to have access to these tools. This InformationWeek story quotes IDC numbers showing that 45 percent of companies have workers that blog, 43 percent have really simple syndication (RSS) users and 35 percent use wikis. The clear signal is that these folks will use the tools, either with or without the blessing of the IT department. Simply outlawing them won't work. It also will lead to security problems. A taste of the potential for trouble can be seen by the proliferation of rouge access points in companies aren't proactive in wireless adoption.
This very nicely done eWeek story, based at a panel at the conference, suggests how deeply social networking tools have permeated two big players, Cisco and Motorola. The latter has 4,400 blogs and 4,200 wikis, an executive says. An interesting observation by a Motorola executive is that the gating factor in the use of these tools is seniority, not age. The higher up the employee -- not the older he or she is -- the less likely they are to use Web 2.0 applications.
Cisco, of course, is a networking company. Though that is a bit of a semantic trick -- Cisco's networking involves routers and servers, not social networking tools -- there is a connection. The company recently bought WebEx and is moving more fully into the unified communications sector, which is closely related to Web 2.0.
The depth of the use of Web 2.0 -- both for internal communications and to reach outsiders -- is a theme in this TechWeb round table between representatives from the TowerGroup, The Hartford and Nexaweb. Insurance, it is fair to point out, is not the most cutting-edge industry.
Another announcement was made by IBM, which said its Lotus Quickr is available. The suite includes Big Blue's initial available wiki, a shared content library, blogs and other social networking tools.
The announcements of corporate Web 2.0 products won't stop, either. This InfoWorld story says that next month BEA Systems will ship three Web 2.0 products. AquaLogic Pages is a mashup builder, AquaLogic Ensemble is aimed at mashup developers and AquaLogic Pathways is a social bookmarking and tagging tool aimed at business users.