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Web 2.0: Walk Softly or Carry a Big Stick?

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While some CIOs are still trying to determine whether there is business value in Web 2.0 technologies, many employees have decided for themselves that these technologies can help them do their jobs better.

 

This may come as an unpleasant surprise to the 73 percent of respondents to a May 2006 CIO Insight survey who said that IT departments should evaluate Web 2.0 tools before letting workers try them out.

 

Just 13 percent of those respondents said their companies had deployed wikis. Yet Harvard Business School Professor Andrew McAfee posits that every member of the Fortune 1000 likely has "some sort of wiki" -- whether or not senior executives know about it.

 

Usage of wikis at companies that encourage them has skyrocketed. At IBM, for example, wiki users swelled from 10,000 to 125,000 in just one year.

 

Wikis can "revolutionize the way that companies document policies, processes and procedures," says columnist Steve Andriole in this Datamation article. (He also lists some darned good uses for six other Web 2.0 tools and technologies -- blogs, podcasts, RSS filters, mash-ups, crowdsourcing and SOA -- many of which have to do with supercharging collaboration.)

 

Since workers are bringing things like wikis and podcasts with them to the office -- often surreptitiously -- ZDNet blogger Dion Hinchcliffe says CIOs will be forced to police these technologies.

 

They must decide whether they want to be the pragmatic good cop, who facilitates the appropriate use of Web 2.0 tools, or the reactionary bad cop, who tries to beat them down.

 

Hinchcliffe advocates the good cop approach, and offers some suggestions on making it easier on the folks in the cubicles. His advice boils down to adopting some of the key principles of the Internet -- simplicity, speed, open standards and a flat network -- behind the firewall.

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