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Enterprise 2.0 - What is it good for?

Enterprise 2.0 - What is it good for?

A 12-step guide to getting the most out of Web 2.0 tools and making it safe-for-purpose

1.Time for a Wake-Up Call at the Top

Web 2.0 is here to stay and companies who ignore it do so at their peril.

S2 Intelligence managing director Dr Bruce McCabe recently predicted that by 2010 Enterprise 2.0 will be so pervasive no one will be able to go for a job where the interviewer isn't armed with a deep profile of all social connections they have made, including those they didn't want people knowing about. By that time too you can expect all leading governments to prepare new legislation using wikis; and 90 per cent of travel and hospitality businesses will be paying for advertising in mirror worlds such as Google Earth.

The first, most basic issue is to make Web 2.0 an agenda for the entire senior management of a company. While hype is an integral part of any new development, the challenges and opportunities presented by Web 2.0 are real and need to be dealt with as a "business" issue more than a "technology" issue, says Stan Relihan, President & CEO of eXpert Executive Search, who runs "Connections", a weekly audio podcast on the Art of Business Networking.

"I believe the most important challenge for the CIO is to make the key decision makers in the company aware and to ensure Web 2.0 becomes increasingly embedded in their current and future strategy," Relihan says.

No one in senior management can afford to be sceptical about Web 2.0, says Jeff Zweig, chief guru, Southeast Asia for Digital Marketing Specialists Web Guru Asia. Instead, they must engage both its challenges and the opportunities that it presents head on. And Zweig has glad tidings for the hesitant: since most companies and organizations are not even close to fulfilling the potential of Web 2.0 and those that get there first will position themselves well ahead of their competitors and also be viewed as innovators in their field, there is a significant first mover opportunity right now

2.Settle the Ownership Question

The problem of just figuring out where responsibility for managing all of this newfound social activity should lie is causing major headaches for many organizations.

Of course, the IT function must support the Web 2.0 implementation from a technical infrastructure and security perspective. The CIO must provide technical advice and recommend technologies and platforms the company should be using for internal Web 2.0 elements such as the corporate blog; handling security, performance and bandwidth management issues; and assessing and recommending productivity tools, Zweig says. However he believes the business strategy behind Web 2.0 should be owned by an organization's corporate communications department.

NetReturn Consulting Australia director Adam Bateson is less sure. Bateson says Enterprise 2.0 must not be left to business leaders alone. Such folk are unlikely to understand that Web 2.0 decisions may expose data from back-end systems that will lead to compliance challenges, and force the building of appropriate integration layers with workflow, ERP, CRM and the like.

"CIOs are often told to deploy new capabilities that include Web 2.0, but are not given the appropriate tools, time or budget to do so," Bateson says. "CIOs need to be included in decisions that involve Web 2.0 and given a well defined road map including business benefits, technology analysis, functional analysis and the like so they can be empowered to make the right technology decisions to support business improvements and initiatives."

Businesspeople also tend to underestimate the time and effort to maintain and run something like a blog or online community or interactive capability such as looking up a price online. Marketing teams will use up entire budgets on design and information architecture without assessing the cost of the technology deployment, giving CIOs the near impossible task of building systems to support initiatives that have commenced without proper assessment of the technology requirements.

The CIOs involvement in decisions is essential to avoid such problems.

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