Web 2.0 tools are slowly making their way to corporate users, often under the wings of champions who must work to overcome IT resistance to blogs, wikis, online communities and the like.
For example, Adam Carson said that Morgan Stanley's IT organisation at times presented obstacles to his efforts to introduce such technologies to workers at the New York-based financial services firm.
Carson, an associate at Morgan Stanley, initiated the Web 2.0 effort there late last year by creating a network of 1,000 employees at Linked.com professional networking site, Linked.com.
At the start of the effort, he said, "most of our IT department did not get it. This was all new to them. They had just been stuck in the world of enterprise IT."
However, he and a grass-roots team moved quickly to convince key members of Morgan Stanley's 10,000-person IT operation of the merits of Web 2.0 tools.
Carson also noted that he has started working with IT managers to ensure that Web 2.0 applications meet federal regulations governing IT security at financial services businesses.
Today, Carson said, about 80 Web 2.0 projects are under way at Morgan Stanley.
The projects include the development of social communities to improve communication with clients and the creation of a system that can automatically turn email groups into online forums. IT developers are also experimenting with Real Simple Syndication (RSS) and wiki applications.
Corporate use of Web 2.0 "is not an 'if' anymore; it is a 'when' and 'how' these things will come to the enterprise," Carson said. "If you can tap into the power of your company better than your competitors that is a competitive advantage."
Miko Coffey, head of digital media at the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), noted that she bypassed IT early on in some efforts to provide Web 2.0 technologies to the group's end users, because she did not want the applications shut down.
Once she started, "IT started to realise it was happening without them anyway," said Coffey. "They were not interested until they started to get multiple requests from around the business. Eventually, they came on board."
NESTA is now using the book-marking site Delicious to gather links needed to put together e-mail newsletters, and Web 2.0 tools such as Central Desktop from Central Desktop for project management and collaboration, Coffey added.
Coffey pointed out that NESTA has started using many free Web 2.0 tools and that it has been easy to prove the value of the tools to management. "The value is instantly visible, especially when you do an ROI and your investment is zero."
She acknowledged that, compared with a large company, it was probably easier for her small organisation, which has 90 employees, to adopt the new technology, because it does not need to be integrated into a vast, complex IT system.
At Medtronic, employee demand for Web 2.0 tools has "exploded," said Scott Mark, an enterprise application architect at the medical device manufacturer.
However, he added, the company has had to move slowly in implementing the technology as IT personnel have worked to make sure it complies with health care industry regulations.
For example, he noted that all content in Web 2.0 collaboration tools must be archived. Similarly, because the company is regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, all content on its Web site, even that contributed by end users, must meet FDA requirements.
"There is a real concern that we have to be aware of those things and make sure it is a message we are allowed to have out there," Mark added.
But such issues should not stop IT organisations from offering Web 2.0 technologies to users, he said. "A lot of the time, IT gets put in a big position of being the enforcers of these compliance issues," Mark said. "Some old-fashioned IT organisations are trying to shut Web 2.0 efforts down. Smart ones classify them as experiments and then take things to an enterprise level."
Intel’s IT operation has launched an online community to allow users, partners and others to recommend features to include in the next generation of its vPro chips.
"We are trying to take the online community and snap it into our end-user feedback mechanism," said Josh Hilliker, community manager of the site, called the Intel vPro Expert Centre.
"We're going to open it up to the community to tell us what they want," he said. "We're going to put [some suggestions] right into silicon."
The chip maker created the site to help resellers and users share information and best practices for configuring and using vPro technology, which Intel first introduced a year ago.
"We need to decrease the integration time of vPro into IT shops," Hilliker said. "We're using the community to do that. We want to do knowledge transfer, take our intellectual data and pass it to the community. To think Intel has all the data does not work anymore."
Intel's vPro support team initially feared that the site would prompt a deluge of support calls. However, the site lets users get answers from one another.
"We're hoping that as the community expands and we get more breadth and depth, it will respond faster than support," he added.
Oliver Young, an analyst at Forrester Research, said it is likely that much of IT's frustration with calls for Web 2.0 tools stems from the fact that budgets generally earmark significant sums, often 80 percent of the total, for maintenance of existing systems.
Most corporate IT organisations also face large backlogs of requests for new systems, he noted.
Young said that despite IT's warnings, users often implement Web 2.0 tools on their own because "they are so easy to get started." Such covert implementations are "very, very frustrating for IT departments," he said.
According to a Forrester report, 25% of IT shops are "very concerned" and 53% are "somewhat concerned" about the unsanctioned use of Web 2.0 tools.
The report was based on a survey of IT managers at 275 companies with 500 or more employees conducted over a three month period. It found that 15 percent of workers overall are using tools such blogs, wikis and RSS for business purposes. The study found many are used without IT support.
GlaxoSmithKline has decided to take its time deciding how it can best use Web 2.0 technologies.
Lee White, social media champion pharmaceutical company, said that he has been given a year to explore how Web 2.0 tools can benefit GlaxoSmithKline.
White noted that demand for Web 2.0 tools generally bubbles up from users, unlike the traditional process where IT managers decide what products are used by workers. That shift could create significant challenges to implementing the technology at his firm, he said.
"The whole Enterprise 2.0 thing is a lot more about a cultural shift than a technology shift," White argued.
"Big organisations have been built on the concept of the hierarchy. Information primarily resided at the top, and they could control how it went down," he explained. "Now, information has been disinter-mediated from the hierarchy. It is a different paradigm."