Enterprise 2.0 apps seen as useful but confusing to business

Most, 74%, of enterprises only have a "vague familiarity" with web 2.0 applications such as blogs and wikis, according to a new survey.

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Most, 74%, of enterprises only have a "vague familiarity" with web 2.0 applications such as blogs and wikis, according to a new survey.

But 44% of businesses find blogs and wikis "imperative" or "of significant importance" to their organisations, the survey revealed.

The survey about Enterprise 2.0 applications includes social software like blogs, wikis and social networks that started out in the consumer Web 2.0 space but that were repurposed for enterprise use.

The report was conducted by AIIM a non-profit organisation that researches enterprise content management and surveyed 400 companies.

Despite the number of organisations that deemed Enterprise 2.0 important and who claimed to see the value in Web 2.0 technologies, almost three-fourths (74 percent) acknowledged to having only a "vague familiarity" with the technology. In fact, 41 percent claimed they had "no clear understanding" of Enterprise 2.0 at all.

The responses reflect the fact that businesses are getting involved in using these applications in an ad hoc manner, says Carl Frappaolo, AIIM's VP of Market Intelligence. As an example, Frappaolo says that line of business departments will often adopt a blog or a wiki separately from the rest of the organisation without much thought to the tools going enterprise-wide and integrating with existing platforms.

Of organisations who have implemented Enterprise 2.0 technologies, nearly 45 percent said they have done so in this ad-hoc manner. A mere 26 percent of organizations have taken a strategic approach to implementing Enterprise 2.0 technologies.

The reason for this willy-nilly adoption could be that businesses have had difficulty proving the business case for the technologies. When asked what was the largest barrier to Enterprise 2.0 adoption, about 42 percent cited "a lack of a business case" as the main reason.

While Frappaolo says that traditional ROI methods can be used to measure the usefulness of Enterprise 2.0 tools , he says there does need to be less of an emphasis on dollar amounts due to the nature of the technologies, which is mainly to encourage horizontal collaboration across the enterprise.

"It could be you measure ROI around how quickly you went from the concept of a product to market, and how these functionalities might help speed that," he noted.

The other issue around adoption could centre around who within companies is buying Enterprise 2.0 technologies. Frappaolo says the respondents were a mix of business users purchasing SaaS (software as a service) offerings while others were IT buyers looking to support the technologies in response to users gravitating towards similar products in the consumer space.

When asked who had buying authority for Enterprise 2.0, 34 percent said it was "senior management," while another 32 percent said the IT department is responsible.

One thing was clear about the goal for adopting the tools: better collaboration. Approximately 72 percent of respondents said that Enterprise 2.0 tools could significantly improve collaboration.

That said, Frappaolo begs the question: will all employees want to work this way?

"Right now many decisions aren't made by a group, but a leader," he says. "Some people like that approach, and others certainly don't."

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