Gmail and Google Apps top CIOs' hate list

Gmail, Yahoo, Zoho and Google Apps top the list of CIOs' pet Web 2.0 peeves in the workplace. This year's CIO Consumer Technology survey found that most IT chiefs aren't enamoured of blogs, wikis, RSS and social networks, either.

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Gmail, Yahoo, Zoho and Google Apps top the list of CIOs' pet Web 2.0 peeves in the workplace. This year's CIO Consumer Technology survey found that most IT chiefs aren't enamoured of blogs, wikis, RSS and social networks, either.

Some 311 IT decision-makers responded to the survey on Computerworld UK's sister title CIO.com in January. While a few have embraced Web 2.0 applications to enable collaboration and to cut costs, the majority have shunned them as lacking security and reliability.

"CIOs are really going to be challenged with Web 2.0 [technologies] because they're not necessarily the de facto gatekeeper anymore," says Rebecca Wettemann, an analyst with Nucleus Research. "They need to figure out where it makes sense to do this in the business, when it could be an opportunity to improve employee productivity."

Most survey respondents were reluctant to abandon off on-premise email. When asked if they'd consider using a hosted email service such as Gmail for their organisations, 18 percent said they would consider it, 50 percent said they would not at all and 33 percent said they were unsure.

Of the refuseniks, 58 percent cited security as the primary reason. In fact, 18 percent said email services such as Gmail and Yahoo posed the greatest consumer technology threat to their organisations.

Likewise, CIOs were wary of web-based productivity applications such as Zoho and Google Apps. Forty-six percent said they'd use the tools if they are "free or low cost" or make employees more productive. In contrast, 54 percent answered "no", deeming them inappropriate for corporate use.

Wettemann says those stats are telling for Google. "They still have a long way to go to make case with corporate IT for why outsourcing email is a good thing," she says.

Elsewhere, only 30 percent of IT decision makers said they offered wikis as a corporate application. A mere 23 percent offered blogs, while18 percent used RSS. Only 10 percent of respondents brought social networks into the enterprise.

According to Oliver Young, a Forrester Research analyst, the sluggish adoption of Web 2.0 technologies might be due in large part to the difficulty of calculating their value, since they don't necessarily replace an existing technology. "The ROI question is a big hurdle," he says.

He says that CIOs should start by using Web 2.0 technologies in small groups and pilots. "You can tackle it by starting with smaller projects and well-defined problems," he says. "If you can fix that one problem, you've already shown some value."

When asked what they do when they find consumer technologies entering the workplace, 35 percent of survey respondents said they shut them down immediately, 36 percent monitored them for risk and 29 percent studied the business case for mainstreaming the particular technology.

When asked if they allow users to seek out their own software applications, CIOs again remained split. Forty-seven percent said no, while 44 percent said yes but with IT approval. Only nine percent allowed users to do so without restrictions.

According to Forrester's Young, the are a perfect indication of the tension between CIO and users. "CIOs, in particular, don't like mess," he says. "Allowing individuals to make their own technology decisions has the potential to bring a tonne of mess into the enterprise."

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