Web 2.0 needs more support from management

An electronic revolution is taking place at the George Washington University, whose CIO last week called for technologies that can help satisfy increasing user demands for support of Web 2.0 technologies like blogs and wikis.

Ronald Bonig , interim vice-president and CIO at the Washington-based university, says the effort will get a huge boost if EMC Corp. soon makes good on its promise to support the Web 2.0 universe in future versions of its Documentum content management software.

At a press briefing at the EMC World user conference in Orlando last week, Mark Lewis, executive vice-president and chief development officer at EMC, said the company was working to add Web 2.0 support into the Documentum software, but he didn’t provide a timeline for shipping such capabilities.

“We need to start to decouple information from applications,” said Lewis. “If we can do that, then we make the applications capable of leveraging information from different data sources.”

Bonig says the George Washington University’s IT unit is in the process of building support for Web 2.0 technologies, since many students and faculty members are already posting and sharing online content on vehicles such as the MySpace social networking site, blogs and wikis.

“E-mail is passe for students; they all use text messaging, wireless, all the new [social networking] tools, wikis and blogs,” he said. “The kids are already leading us there, which presents us with some challenges to keep track of them.”

Bonig says the school is also working with various departments, such as the registrar’s office, to enable them to update and push out their own data, an effort that would prove far easier with Web 2.0 support.

During the press conference, EMC also launched Documentum TaskSpace , the new transactional content user interface for its next-generation Documentum 6 (D6) enterprise content management platform. TaskSpace will ship in the third quarter of this year, according to Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC.

Linda Toale, a systems engineer and architect for finance systems at Delta Technology LLC , a subsidiary of Altanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc., says she plans to upgrade to D6 sometime in 2008.

Toale says she is interested in the enhanced Web publishing capabilities promised in the new version.

In the long run, Toale says, she is looking for Documentum to provide tools to help users manage content without significant help from IT, a goal that would be helped with Web 2.0 support.

If end-users assumed greater responsibility for managing and controlling their content, Toale says, Delta’s IT staffers could concentrate on other critical duties. “Anything they can do on their own makes life much easier for us,” she says. “We don’t want to say no, but we are always busy.”

Still, some EMC World attendees questioned whether concerns about control, security and trade-secret exposure would deter corporations from ever embracing Web 2.0 tools.

“The whole idea of open source really scares management,” says Heath Bair, a software specialist at Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide Financial Services Inc. “I doubt I’ll ever see management embrace it. They want to keep [very stringent] control.”

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