Enterprise 2.0 report: IT managers take back seat

IT managers rank No. 3 among the people most likely to be driving in so-called enterprise 2.0 strategies, despite the fact few organizations even understand the term, according to a survey report released Thursday.

Published by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) based in Silver Spring, Maryland, the enterprise 2.0 report was buttressed by a definition that the organization came up with to help educate businesses and the media. According to AIIM, enterprise 2.0 refers to “a system of Web-based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise.”

According to Carl Frappaolo, AIIM’s vice-president of market intelligence, while the survey of more than 400 users showed a growing appreciation for enterprise 2.0, making the business case for investment is not that easy. Approximately 77 per cent of respondents said they would not be able to show an acceptable level of return if they did a return on investment calculation on their enterprise 2.0 efforts.

Forty-four per cent have no clear understanding of what enterprise 2.0 means, and a significant number can’t understand how such systems are different than Web 2.0 technologies.

Frappaolo said the underlying technologies – such as blogs, wikis, and composite applications sometimes called mashups may be similar, but enterprise 2.0 implies that at least some element of the technology is proprietary, or that it is being used internally and for business purposes. “The industry has a sense that enterprise 2.0 as a system is more than those pure 2.0 technologies. Very little was left out,” he said. “People understand there is a need for a thing like e-mail.”

Open Text, which was among the firms which underwrote the AIIM research, recently launched a set of enterprise content management products it has targeted at enterprise 2.0 early adopters. Bill Forquer, the Waterloo, Ont.-based firm’s executive vice-president of marketing, said it’s not unusual for an emerging technology to gain sponsorship in one area of the enterprise before being championed by IT.

“We’ve seen that with records management over the last number of years. Something like Enron happens and the awareness of records management and policies is suddenly a boardroom-level conversation,” he said. “Part of the business and IT groups that are focused on workgroup effectiveness and collaboration could actually benefit from 2.0 technologies and capabilities.”

Frappaolo agreed, comparing enterprise 2.0 to a lot of the work done in knowledge management back in the mid-1990s. “The strategy needs to be driven by the business side, but IT can’t go away, because it is Web technology we’re dealing with here,” he said.

“I think in this 2.0 phenomenon we are looking at something that is much more bottom-up, whereas knowledge management focused on, ‘Let’s build a universal taxonomy for the entire company,’” Forquer added. “It was more of the traditional librarianship and a top-down approach.”

Forty-four percent of survey respondents said enterprise 2.0 was either critical or imperative for their organization, Frappaolo added. Another 54 per cent said success around enterprise 2.0 is measured differently across the organization.

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