Web 2.0: Not Everyone's Doing It, After All


Who hasn't been persuaded to try something new with the "everybody's doing it" line? Most folks have fallen for some variation of this at least once in their lives, and some people succumb to it repeatedly. It's often employed to lure us to test something we may not be quite ready to handle (i.e. smoking, sex, water skiing). While some of us are put off permanently when these initial experiences disappoint, others later grow quite fond of some of these things.


Could that be what's happening with Web 2.0 in the enterprise? At the very least, recent research sends some mixed signals about it.


In my post about a slowdown in IT hiring, I cited an InfoWorld item that quotes M. Victor Janulaitis, CEO at IT staffing research company Janco Associates, as saying that the sluggish economy has halted Web 2.0 investments. Demand for Web 2.0 technologies has "atrophied," says Janulaitis, after "a slight increase in demand" earlier this year.


Indeed, Web 2.0 deployments likely fall under the discretionary spending column at most companies, and thus are prone to elimination as tech execs look to cut IT spending. As a Goldman Sachs analyst put it, execs are "searching for solutions with a high and fast ROI," a criteria mostly lacking in Web 2.0 technologies.


Here's what Forrester Research analyst G. Oliver Young said earlier this month about ROI when discussing a Forrester report that indicates agrowing acceptance of Web 2.0 technologies among IT personnel:

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.

While Forrester's report offers a bullish outlook on Web 2..0, others are less positive. A Robert Half Technology survey shows decent adoption rates and high interest among CIOs for some Web technologies, and strong aversions to others.


According to that survey, 34 percent of CIOs use videoconferencing today with another 18 percent planning to adopt it in the next five years. Also popular were online training, with 47 percent of respondents using it now and 13 percent planning to add it within five years, and collaborative work spaces (Microsoft's Sharepoint is the example offered by ZDNet's Larry Dignan), with 24 percent using it now and 19 percent expecting to add such tools.


But check out the Robert Half numbers of CIOs taking a pass on technologies: tagging software (67 percent), blogs (72 percent),wikis (74 percent) and virtual worlds (84 percent). ZDNet's Dignan expresses surprise at the lack of love for wikis and speculates that maybe they are popular among in-the-trenches types such as software developers and project managers but not among CIOs.


While adoption of Web 2.0 technologies is growing, just 21 percent of companies are satisfied with them, found a McKinsey survey. Twenty-two percent of respondents say they are dissatisfied with such technologies, according to a Network World story about the survey, while the majority of companies are apparently still on the fence. That's hardly a ringing endorsement.


Among the barriers to adoption: company doesn't understand the potential financial return (the ROI thing, again), cited by 28 percent of respondents; corporate culture doesn't encourage Web 2.0 use (22 percent); and company doesn't provide enough incentives to adopt or experiment with Web 2.0 technologies (20 percent).


And why do companies adopt Web 2.0 technologies? The top three reasons, according to McKinsey: managing knowledge (83 percent), fostering collaboration (78 percent) and enhancing company culture (74 percent).