Impact of Web 2.0 Technologies


Nov 5, 2013 (4 years and 7 months ago)


Impact of Web 2.0 Technologies
Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts, Mashups, Folksonomies,
RSS Filters, Social Networks, Virtual Worlds &
Crowdsourcing for Corporate Productivity &
Management: Early Impact Assessments
Stephen J. Andriole, Ph.D.
LiquidHub, Inc.
500 East Swedesford Road
Suite 300
Wayne, PA 19087
There are all sorts of companies out there, all sorts of corporate cultures and all sorts of management
This paper describes research that measures the impact of the corporate deployment of wikis, blogs,
podcasts, folksonomies, mashups, social networks, virtual worlds, RSS filters and virtual worlds. All of
these technologies are identified with what is commonly referred to as Web 2.0. Web 2.0 technologies,
when deployed properly, may well permit companies to cost-effectively increase their productivity and,
ultimately, improve their competitive advantage; the research reported here describes the impact the
technologies are having in the early phases of their deployment. We report the results of interview,
observation and survey data collection that measures the impact that Web 2.0 technolo- gies are
having in selected companies and industries across six performance areas (knowledge management,
rapid application development, customer relationship manage- ment, collaboration/communication,
innovation and training). The results include cau- tion, skepticism as well as significant contributions to
collaboration and communica-tions. Wikis, blogs, and RSS filters have generated the most impact. Virtual
worlds are having virtually no impact. Security remains a concern, but communication and collaboration
are well served by Web 2.0 technologies, among other findings.
What is the impact of wikis, blogs, podcasts, folksonomies, mashups, social networks, virtual worlds and
RSS filters on corporate productivity and management? All of these technologies are identified with what
is commonly referred to as Web 2.0. This article describes the results of interview, observation and survey
data collected to measure the impact that Web 2.0 technologies are having in selected companies and
There is very little published research that explores the contribution of Web 2.0 technologies to corporate
productivity and management. The Gartner Group (, Forrester Research (www.forrester.
com), IDC ( and the Cutter Consortium (, among other professional and
trade organizations (not to mention the huge repertoire of vendors’ White Papers on the subject), report
that Web 2.0 technologies are rapidly making their way into corporate technology infrastructures and
architectures. But the way the technologies are being used, and the impact they are having, has not been
reported in any systematic way1.
The research posed simple questions to managers and executives like:

“What good is Web 2.0 technology to my company?”

“What problems will Web 2.0 technology solve?”

“How can we use the technology to save money or make money?”

“What are some of the best ways to exploit the technology without complicating existing
infrastructures or architectures?”
The research objectives include:

Understand the range of Web 2.0 tools and techniques that might improve corporate productivity
and management

Identify how Web 2.0 tools and techniques can be used to enhance corporate productivity and

Measure the impact via the collection of interview, direct observational and survey data
The kinds of hypotheses addressed include:

Can Wikis, blogs, RSS filters and folksonomies help companies with knowledge management?

Can wikis be used to build quick “corporate encyclopedias,” training manuals and other forms of

Can blogs be used to vet ideas about markets, customers and strategies?

Can podcasts be effectively used to document products?

Can folksonomies be used to organize structured and unstructured content?

Can RSS filters be used to create content streams to improve customer relationship management

Can mashups be used for rapid application development (RAD)?

Can crowdsourcing be used to stimulate innovation?
The research methods include:

Profile the range of Web 2.0 technologies available to corporations

Define “impact” across multiple dimensions of productivity

Collect data on the use of Web 2.0 technologies and the impact areas through a combination of
interviews, direct observation and surveys

Analyze the data to identify usage patterns and impact

Identify correlations from the survey data among technologies and impact areas

Measure the relative impact of individual and groups of technologies on individual and groups of
impact areas
Publications like Business 2.0, Fast Company and even Business Week are all writing about Web 2.0 – and
even Web 3.0 – the “new net,” and the next digital gold rush. Is this another bubble? Will Web 2.0 (and
then Web 3.0) companies crash and burn like their parents? The online trade journal – Web 2.0
Journal – explores all sorts of Web 2.0 technologies ( and, as suggested above,
just about every major technology vendor has released multiple White Papers on Web 2.0 technologies
and applications. There are also many Web 2.0 blogs at work, such as Dion Hinchcliffe’s Web 2.0 blog
that attracts a growing number of participants ( If this were
1999, we’d call Web 2.0 a “killer app” or a “disruptive technology.” At this point, however, we’re still not sure
about the impact Web 2.0 technology is having. Web 2.0 technologies evolved on the C2C (consumer-to-
consumer) side of the Web. Social networking sites like MySpace (, Facebook (www. and Friendster ( were developed to connect individuals anxious to
share experiences, photographs, videos and other personal things about their lives. These sites grew
rapidly with huge amounts of “user-created content.” (Perhaps the best example of user-created content
is YouTube []).
The research described here is about corporate deployment trends and impact. Will Web 2.0 technology
be widely adopted because it dramatically – and cost-effectively – improves corporate performance? Or
will it disappoint the business and technology professionals it’s expected to please?
Interview Questions
The list of questions posed to our companies, and that defined our observation, included the following:

“How did you become aware of the availability of Web 2.0 technologies?”

“What is your understanding of the range of Web 2.0 technologies that might positively affect

“What is a great Web 2.0 productivity scenario for the company?”

“What’s a really bad scenario for the company?”

“Which Web 2.0 technologies have you piloted?”

“Which Web 2.0 technologies are you avoiding – and why?”

“What has been the impact of the technologies?”

“How would you quantify the impact in the following areas: knowledge management (KM),
rapid application development (RAD), customer relationship management (CRM), collaboration,
communication, innovation and training?”

“What has been your greatest success with Web 2.0 technologies?”

“What has been your greatest disappointment?”

“What excites you about web 2.0 technologies?”

“What worries you?”

“Are there infrastructure or architecture issues that worry you?”

“Does business acceptance worry you?”

“Does IT acceptance worry you?”

“Where do you think you will be with Web 2.0 applications in three years?”
These questions guided the interviews and observation exercises. Our conversations were designed to
understand what companies were doing with Web 2.0 technologies, the impact of the technologies and
the alignment of technologies with expectations, fears, trends and other considerations. The questions
assume that companies are in the relatively early stages of their Web 2.0 application deployment, that they
were still learning about what the technologies can do and cannot do, and are motivated to understand
the potential of the technologies.
The Interviews
We undertook a number of interviews and conversations – combined with direct observation – to
determine the deployment of Web 2.0 technologies and – more importantly – the impact these
technologies are having on corporate productivity. The conversations occurred with five companies that
agreed to in-depth interviews and access to the teams that implemented selected Web 2.0 technologies.
The interviews were conducted with senior technology managers in each of the companies. The
companies were in the pharmaceutical, chemical, real estate/mortgage, information technology and
financial services industries. The interviews, discussions and observations occurred in Q1 and Q2 of 2008.
Approximately, fifteen professionals participated in the interviews.

Company A = Big Pharmaceutical Company

Company B = Global Chemicals Company

Company C = National Real Estate & Mortgage Company

Company D = Global Information Technology Company

Company E = Large Financial Services Company
The list of questions posed to the companies and their responses included the following:

“How did you become aware of the availability of Web 2.0 technologies?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Reading; conferences, vendors and IT staff …”

Global Chemicals Company: “Vendors, IT staff and business partners …”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “Vendors and IT staff …”

Global Information Technology Company: “Competitors, industry publications …”

Large Financial Services Company: “Trade publications, industry organizations …”
Thanks to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for supporting the interview and direct observation processes; thanks
to Villanova University and the Cutter Consortium for supporting the collection of the survey data. Thanks to
Dr. A. Frank Mayadas of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for excellent comments and insights along the way.

“What is your understanding of the range of Web 2.0 technologies that might positively affect

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Primarily blogs, wikis and podcasts …”

Global Chemicals Company: “Blogs, wikis, podcasts and RSS …”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “Blogs, wikis, podcasts and RSS …”

Global Information Technology Company: “Blogs, wikis, RSS and virtual reality …”

Large Financial Services Company: “Blogs, wikis, mashups and tagging …”

“What is a great Web 2.0 productivity scenario for the company?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Very fast, cheap but productive applications …”

Global Chemicals Company: “Easy to deploy with lots of payback …”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “Fast, cheap to deploy with major productivity…”

Global Information Technology Company: “Integrates well with existing technology …”

Large Financial Services Company: “Transparent but effective …”

“What’s a really bad scenario for the company?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Lots of distraction due to the technology …”

Global Chemicals Company: “Expensive, time-consuming deployment that fails …”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “Loss of control of the technology …”

Global Information Technology Company: “Exposure of company secrets …”

Large Financial Services Company: “Everyone playing around with this stuff when they should
be working …”

“Which Web 2.0 technologies have you piloted?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Wikis and blogs …”

Global Chemicals Company: “Wikis and blogs …”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “Wikis, RSS and blogs …”

Global Information Technology Company: “Wikis, blogs and RSS filters …”

Large Financial Services Company: “Wikis, blogs and mashups …”

“Which Web 2.0 technologies are you avoiding – and why?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Virtual worlds – stupid …”

Global Chemicals Company: “Virtual worlds – no clue how they might help us …”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “Virtual worlds and blogs – too much data to control

Global Information Technology Company: “Blogs and crowdsourcing – way too much proprietary
data in them …”

Large Financial Services Company: “Social networks – way too distracting during work …”

“What has been the impact of the technologies?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Too early to tell … way too early …”

Global Chemicals Company: “Suspicious of the trade-offs between ‘fun’ and ‘productivity’”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “Who the hell knows …”

Global Information Technology Company: “People seem to like them…but I don’t know about
the real impact …”

Large Financial Services Company: “We are hopeful …”

“How would you quantify the impact in the following areas (knowledge management [KM],
rapid application development [RAD], customer relationship management [CRM], collaboration,
communication, innovation and training)?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Collaboration and communication is where the action is … this
is the real impact we’re seeing at this point … plus there’s a lot of user acceptance of wikis, blogs
and social networks…we’re getting more formal with knowledge management where wikis and
blogs are being used to codify information and vet decisions … only doing a little with RAD and
mashups, but that will come in time … same with CRM where we plan to use the tools to better
communicate with customers and suppliers…wikis are emerging as training tools … not too
much yet with innovation … a little worried about crowdsourcing outside the firewall …”

Global Chemicals Company: “Wikis and blogs have changed the way we communicate: they’re
easy and fast – and everyone can participate … knowledge management is fast following
improved communications and collaboration … the IT team is crazy about mash-ups … they
are able to build applications very quickly for the business so I’d say that RAD has improved …
CRM with external customers and suppliers is behind the other applications – we’re a little leery
of working outside the firewall with these tools … training is a natural…we’re using wikis, blogs
and podcasts for training with good results… still nothing with virtual worlds or crowdsourcing
… a little too ‘out there’ for us…”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “We’re all over these tools for data and content
management … RSS filters are used internally and externally, and we tag everything for better
search and access … communication and collaboration are obvious beneficiaries of the tool use
… CRM is our next application where RSS and other content will be provided to our cutomers …
virtual worlds are not there for us yet, but we like wikis, blogs and podcasts for training … they
are cheaper and faster than hiring a training company … innovation is happening inside the
company with crowdsourcing and blogs …”

Global Information Technology Company: “Communication and collaboration has improved
at the company since we introduced some Web 2.0 tools … consumerization has definitely
taken hold here … people – especially the younger ones – are simply extending their personal
experiences with the tools to the workplace without missing a beat … knowledge management
is just sort of happening on its own … repositories are being built without a formal project to do
so … CRM is still not on our radar screen, though we’re doing a lot of the things internally that we
could provide our customers and suppliers … mashup technology is the fastest RAD technology
we’ve ever seen … we’re training with wikis and blogs and the time savings are large …

Large Financial Services Company: “Impact has been spotty … I separate fun from productivity
… sure, everyone likes these tools but I am not convinced that the benefit is there yet … wikis
and blogs help communication and especially collaboration, but I wonder just how much … we
have so much to do and even though Web 2.0 tools are pretty easy to use they still require time
and effort … we already have knowledge management tools and have data bases that permit
us to organize and search … we have CRM tools that we’ve invested a ton of money in … we
have contractors, vendors and partners that assist our innovation efforts …and what about the
negative impact on security? … we like the content management aspects of the technologies,
but I need to see empirical cost-benefit data before I declare victory…”

“What has been your greatest success with Web 2.0 technologies?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “The ability to record knowledge and experiences in a single
format and location…”

Global Chemicals Company: “Internal buzz: everybody likes the new stuff…”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “Wikis are being used for training…”

Global Information Technology Company: “Using crowdsourcing internally to solve some tough

Large Financial Services Company: “Building some RSS filters to better organize information …
also using folksonomies to organize data and content…”

“What has been your greatest disappointment?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Seeing a lot of what I consider to be sensitive information in
wikis, blogs and podcasts…”

Global Chemicals Company: “IT’s inability to control this stuff…”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “No feedback on what it’s good for…”

Global Information Technology Company: “Lack of vendor support…”

Large Financial Services Company: “The caution of IT…”

“What excites you about Web 2.0 technologies?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “How easy it is to deploy some new, useful technology…”

Global Chemicals Company: “How we can displace more expensive technologies for much
cheaper and easier to use technologies…”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “How easy to use the new stuff really is…”

Global Information Technology Company: “How open it is…”

Large Financial Services Company: “How it extends existing capabilities…”

“What worries you?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Integration with existing technologies…”

Global Chemicals Company: “Integration with business processes…”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “Support …”

Global Information Technology Company: “Intellectual property and privacy – a lot …”

Large Financial Services Company: “Security, privacy, IP and all of the proprietary data that fills
up wikis, blogs, crowdsourced solutions, podcast and everything else this technology makes

“Are there infrastructure or architecture issues that worry you?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Security, security and security…”

Global Chemicals Company: “Support…”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “Governance: who owns these tools?”

Global Information Technology Company: “Integration and interoperability with our

Large Financial Services Company: “Integration with our existing applications and architectures…”

“Does business acceptance worry you?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Not at all – so long as it works and doesn’t cost too much, they
will embrace it…”

Global Chemicals Company: “The business always wants to try new things; it’s IT that slows
things down…’

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “The business is skeptical about all the new tools IT
brings to the table … so they will be cautious…”

Global Information Technology Company: “The business only wants low-cost solutions…”

Large Financial Services Company: “If it’s free and powerful, they’ll love it…”

“Does information technology (IT) acceptance worry you?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Yes, they always find something ‘wrong’ with the new stuff …
always worried about support…”

Global Chemicals Company: “No, they are pushing the stuff…”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “Cost always worries IT … it’s been beaten into them
over time … so the technology needs to be cheap to deploy and support…”

Global Information Technology Company: “They will come around … they don’t like how easy it
is for employees to just set up blogs and wikis – often end-running them…”

Large Financial Services Company: “They see the business value – or at least the potential in
these tools – so I think we are OK here…”

“Where do you think you will be with Web 2.0 applications in three years?”

Big Pharmaceutical Company: “Fully accepted and integrated…”

Global Chemicals Company: “There … but you need to ask me about Web 3.0 technologies…”

National Real Estate & Mortgage Company: “Mainstream … by that time we will have figured out
what to do with them…”

Global Information Technology Company: “Well received and productive…”

Large Financial Services Company: “Still a little skeptical…”
Interview Results
The interviews and direct observation revealed a number of consistent trends among our interviewees
(see Figure 2). We learned that Web 2.0 technologies – in spite of all the hype around them – are
entering the enterprise slowly yet deliberately. The exception to this conclusion is that there are clearly
applications occurring that are not entirely controlled by the enterprise’s tech- nology organization.
That said, the majority of applications are entering organizations in areas where expectations can be
managed, where costs are low and where the integration and interoperability (with existing applications
and infrastructures) of the tools is manageable. We also learned that there are serious concerns about
intellectual property (IP), proprietary information, privacy, security and control.
Technology organizations are both advancing and delaying the deployment of Web 2.0 technologies.
Some organizations absolutely require that Web 2.0 technologies – like all enterprise technologies –
be governed by the same processes that govern the acquisition, deployment and support of all digital
technologies. Other organizations are loosening their grip somewhat primarily because they believe it’s
virtually impossible to prevent the creation of wikis or blogs by a business unit or project team.
There is a hierarchy of Web 2.0 tools. All of the companies interviewed have deployed wikis and blogs. Many
have deployed RSS filters and podcasts; fewer have deployed social networks, mashups and folksonomies.
Even fewer have invested in crowdsourcing and virtual worlds. There is deployment momentum at work,
as there often is when new technologies appear. Momentum breeds momentum and we can expect
wikis, blogs, podcasts, and RSS filters to gain momentum as other Web 2.0 technologies lag. The models
for exploiting these early-adopted technologies will thus grow faster, wider and deeper than optimization
models for, for example, virtual worlds.
Finally, there’s an important distinction between internal applications and external ones. We noticed that
our companies were much more willing to pilot Web 2.0 technologies inside their firewalls than outside,
not because they were afraid of failure or wanted to avoid tipping their hands to their competitors, but
because of deepening concerns about security and access to corporate private data.
Our interviews provided one level of insight into the adoption and impact of Web 2.0 technologies, but
what did the survey data tell us?
The Survey
The questions focus on some background issues, impact expectations, and then the impact that the
technologies are actually having across the six impact areas. The survey was administered by the Cutter
Consortium, a research and consulting organization that offered the survey to its stable of CIOs, CTOs,
CFOs, CEOs and COOs. These members represent over twenty vertical industries of varying sizes including
small offices/home offices, small and medium-sized business and large global enterprises. The five
companies interviewed also participated in the survey. In addition to these five companies, an additional
93 companies responded to the survey.
Survey Results
The survey results appear below. Let’s look first at overall deployment trends. Table 1 describes the
deployment landscape. Wikis and blogs lead the charge followed by RSS filters. Perhaps surprising is the
deployment of internal social networks and folksonomies/content management applications. No one
seems to like living in virtual worlds. The use of external customer blogs is also interesting and suggestive
of our desire to reach out to customers any way we can. We must also acknowledge that 22% in our
survey did not deploy any Web 2.0 technologies at all.
Internally-Focused Applications
Externally-Focussed Applications
The majority of Web 2.0 technology
applications are occurring in this
area. These are “safe” applications
and allow companies to pilot
applications while testing the impact
on security, infrastructure, TCO and
intellectual property.
Early adopters are piloting Web 2.0
technologies outside of the corporate
firewall to establish alternative
communication and collaboration
patterns with employees, suppliers,
clients and customers, patterns that
permit improved communication.
Knowledge management (KM) is
becoming a natural result of the the
deployment of wikis, blogs, podcasts
and RSS filters. Formal knowledge
management tools are giving way
to more informal Web 2.0 tools and
over time this trend will continue.
Knowledge management (KM) will
support externally focused
organizations – like the consulting
and retail industries – before internally
focused organizations will formally
adopt KM due to security, privacy and
intellectual property issues.
Rapid Application
Mashup and related technology
is slowly replacing some more
traditional rapid application
development (RAD) technology. As
more and more components,
application programming interfaces
(APIs) and widgets are published,
more RAD progress will be made.
RAD tools and techniques will
formalize for technology vendors
and technology driven companies
and industries as more and
more components, applications
programming interfaces (APIs) and
widgets are published by direct
publishers and 3rd party hosters.
Customer relationship management
(CRM) applications are slow to
absorb the extensible abilities of
Web 2.0 technologies internally and
especially externally. It will take
some time for Web 2.0 technologies
to integrate with and extend from
existing CRM technologies.
CRM is a natural partner of Web 2.0
technologies, especially tools like RSS
filters, podcasts, mashups and blogs.
There are countless ways to leverage
Web 2.0 technologies on behalf of
customers and suppliers, but because
of deployment fear these applications
will lag.
Companies are rapidly using wikis,
blogs, podcasts and RSS filters for
training and education. The ease of
use and participatory nature of these
applications is widely appealing to a
growing number of companies. The
relatively low cost also helps.
3rd party training and education
providers will leverage Web 2.0
technologies and integrate them into
the already formidable online training
and education business. The tools will
then be sold back to customers to
improve learning of all kinds.
Wikis, blogs and folksonomies – among some other Web 2.0 technologies – represent an ability to link data, information
and knowledge that was previously unlinked. “Linked data” represents this ability. See Note that the
use of web-based Web 2.0 tools “frees” users from corporate restrictions on access, content and transaction processing. To
many companies, this is both a blessing and a curse.
Internally-Focused Applications
Externally-Focussed Applications
There’s little impact of Web 2.0
technologies on the innovation
process. There are spotty innovation
applications of crowdsourcing for
R&D and some selected applications
of folksonomies, RSS filters and
mashups, but by and large the area
has not been impacted.
Web 2.0 tools, techniques and
especially attitudes will drama – tically
alter the innovation process in many
industries because the tools facilitate
direct communication/collaboration
among the creators and buyers of new
products and services shortening the
innovation life cycle.
Figure 2: Summary Interview Findings
Table 1: Web 2.0 Technology Deployment
These results are consistent with our interview data. The most obvious Web 2.0 technologies – like wikis
and blogs – are being deployed faster than technologies than virtual worlds, crowdsourcing and even
mashups. There’s a caution around early adoption of all technologies. Because of the free-wheeling nature
of Web 2.0 technologies, there appears to be even more caution. The growth of external deployment is
We’re finally seeing the deployment of external blogs and external social networks though, again, we’re
lagging with the deployment of external crowdsourcing models. This confirms the distinction we noted
between the internal and external deployment of Web 2.0 technologies during our interviews (see Figure
Table 2 presents some expectations data. What did managers think about the contributions that Web 2.0
technologies could make to corporate productivity and management?
The survey data suggests that expectations were generally high – even though the data reveals most of
the respondents expect “medium” impact. But while 55% expect the impact to be medium, 23% expect
it to be high. This 78% response suggests that the majority of respondents expect the impact of Web 2.0
technologies to be significant.
Put another way, there is a lot of optimism out there.
Table 2: Overall Expectations
Table 3 suggests that most of the respondents expected Web 2.0 technologies to impact the knowledge
management, collaboration and communications areas; many respondents also expectedWeb 2.0
technologies to positively impact customer relationship management (CRM), innovation and training.
Rapid application development (RAD) was expected to lag impact relative to the other areas.
But what did the survey data actually tell us?
Table 3: Expectations by Impact Area
Table 4 presents data about what happened versus what the respondents thought would happen. The
results are interesting because there are distinctions between what was expected and what has occurred.
For example, knowledge management (KM) was expected to be more impactful than it actually turned
out to be. Collaboration and communications were slightly exaggerated in the expectations survey data
though collaboration and communications were still highly impacted by Web 2.0 technologies.
Innovation, training, customer relationship management (CRM) and rapid application development (RAD)
lagged expectations. What explained the optimism that yielded to reality? Cynics will point to pundit
hype and vendor exaggeration of technology capabilities – something that many vendors do on a routine
basis. Others point to naiveté about early versus managed technology adoption processes. Regardless of
the reason, there’s a gap between what was expected and what actually occurred.
Table 4: Actual Impact Data
Table 5 shifts to a lower level of analysis. In this case the impact area of knowledge management (KM)
is assessed. The four metrics – sharing, retrieving, organizing and leveraging knowledge – indicate that
Web 2.0 technologies contributed significantly to sharing, retrieving and organizing knowledge, but not
as much leveraging knowledge for problem-solving purposes. This makes Web 2.0 technologies (for KM)
more descriptive than prescriptive, more operational than strategic.
Table 5: Knowledge Management (KM) Impact Data by Ability
The impact breakdown is even more interesting. Table 6 suggests that wikis, blogs and folksonomies/
content management lead the way toward improved knowledge management (KM). A surprising finding
is the relative lack of impact of RSS filters. This is surprising because the essence of RSS filtering is knowledge
management. It’s not surprising that virtual worlds have little impact on knowledge management.
The area of application development is an interesting area for a number of reasons. First, there’s relatively
little ground-up application development going on these days. More and more companies have adapted
their processes to those embedded in packaged software applications. It’s also interesting because a
great deal of applications development occurs around the customization of functionality that extends
from packaged applications.
Mashup technology – one would think – would have a dramatic impact on the customization and extension
of packaged applications-based functionality – but the survey data does not support this assumption.
Table 7 suggests that across the board the relationship between Web 2.0 technologies and application
development is weak. This finding also suggests that the new Internet-centered applications architecture
may be lagging as well. While more and more transaction processing is occurring outside of the corporate
firewall, there are still lots of companies that are more comfortable with older applications development/
enhancement methods and models that do not necessarily involve the use of Web-published application
program interfaces, components or widgets.
Table 6: Web 2.0 Technologies & Knowledge Management
Table 7: Rapid Application Development (RAD) Impact Data by Ability
All of that said, wikis seems to lead the pack of Web 2.0 technologies and their contribution to RAD. Wikis?
Apparently, wikis represent a suite of new applications themselves that companies are rapidly deploying.
Perhaps surprising is the relatively few respondents that see mashups as applications unto themselves
or as an applications development methodology. Web-centric applications architectures will extensively
use mashup technology to create a whole new class of applications – but this appears to be more on the
drawing board than on the field.
Table 8: Web 2.0 Technologies & Rapid Applications Development (RAD)
Table 9 indicates that Web 2.0 technologies have had little impact in the customer relationship
management (CRM) area. This is a little surprising since several Web 2.0 technologies – like external
customer blogs, wikis, external social networks and RSS filters – all have great CRM potential. This further
suggests that we may not be thinking creatively enough about how Web 2.0 technologies can contribute
not only to CRM but to the other impact areas as well.
Table 9: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Impact Data by Ability
Table 10 suggests that wikis and external customer blogs contribute the most to CRM, though, again, the
numbers are not compelling. There’s also little confidence expressed in the use of external social networks.
Overall, the data suggests that CRM is not considered a prime impact area for Web 2.0 technologies
though, over time, that could certainly change.
Table 11 shifts the focus to collaboration and communication. As expected, the impact here is significant.
Wikis are the runaway hit followed by blogs and external social networks. Here again, however, we
see a lower level of deployment sophistication than would be the ideal. For example, the “auditing’ of
communications and collaboration streams – classic business intelligence (BI) – is lagging well behind
other impact areas. The power of many of the Web 2.0 technologies goes far beyond the obvious and
often involves the ability to perform primary and secondary analyses of transactions, communications
patterns, customer service and many other impact areas. Our data appears to indicate that there’s a toe-
in-the-water effect at work where companies are experimenting with initial deployments but stopping
short of full commitment through the total exploitation of the functionality of Web 2.0 technologies.
Table 12 confirms all this: wikis, internal blogs and internal social networks lead the way in the collaboration
and communication area. While this is to be expected, there are many other opportunities yet to be
Table 10: Web 2.0 Technologies & Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Table 11: Collaboration & Communications Impact Data by Ability
Table 12 also suggests a weakness in externally focused Web 2.0 technology deployment – surprising in
light of the technology’s capabilities. We can infer from this data that external applications lag internal
ones and that over time there will be significant collaboration and communications applications.
Why so optimistic? Because the essence of Web 2.0 technology capabilities is anchored in ubiquitous
collaboration and communication.
Table 12: Web 2.0 Technologies & Collaboration & Communications
Table 13 turns to innovation, our fifth impact area. There’s not much enthusiasm here, though there’s
enough progress in several of the areas to excite those who think that Web 2.0 technology can eventually
contribute to innovation. Crowdsourcing is an especially powerful Web 2.0 innovation technology as are
RSS filters, wikis and blogs.
Table 13: Innovation Impact Data by Ability
Table 14 provides details around which Web 2.0 technologies are contributing to innovation. Very
surprising is the relative unimportance ascribed to external crowdsourcing. (And does anyone believe
that virtual worlds are useful for anything?)
Table 14: Web 2.0 Technologies & Innovation
The final area assessed in training. Table 15 suggests that respondents have not yet defined how web 2.0
technologies can contribute to training. While wikis are natural born trainers, there’s so much more that
Web 2.0 technologies can contribute. What have our respondents missed?
Table 15: Training Impact Data by Ability`
Table 16 provides the details. While wikis “win,” there appear to be other technologies that have been
discounted – at least at this point in time. Here – believe it or not – is where virtual worlds can actually
contribute to education and learning, though there’s not much evidence to suggest that anyone agrees.
Table 16: Web 2.0 Technologies & Training
We’ve interviewed, observed and surveyed. What did we learn?
Security remains a major issue in the adoption of Web 2.0 technology. More than security, there’s the
issue of internal control and prudence versus flexibility and even liability. Some companies are blocking
access to social networking sites from corporate networks; others are creating their own corporate social
networking sites but here too we find companies concerned about the amount of time employees spend
on such sites.
Our interview, observation and survey data all suggest that the lowest hanging fruit – surprise – gets
picked first. Wikis, blogs and social networks – perhaps because of their C2C origins – have been deployed
more than the other technologies. There’s a fear of the unknown which perhaps explains why virtual
worlds, folksonomies, crowdsourcing and even RSS filters have lagged the deployment of the wiki/blog/
social network big three.
It also appears that our respondents have not yet discovered the second level potential of Web 2.0
technology. Mashup technology is potentially extremely powerful – but it has not yet penetrated the
RAD mindset. Similarly, the CRM mindset is under-influenced by Web 2.0 technology.
One important constraint to the adoption of Web 2.0 technology is the existing applications portfolio
inside companies with substantial technology budgets. In addition to the perennial issues around asset
amortization, there are not-invented-here constraints that restrict the introduction of new applications
based on new technologies. This “walled garden” effect is real in many companies and restricts the
adoption of new technologies, applications and even processes.
SomeWeb 2.0 technologies are operational and some are employee- and customer-facing. Figures 3 and
4 suggest that there’s a relationship between complexity and adoption, and an important distinction
between operational and facing technologies. We should assume that simple (versus complex) facing
technologies will be adopted faster than complicated operational ones.
Figure 3: Adoption & Complexity
Figure 4: Segmentation of Web 2.0 Technologies
The broad area of information warfare is fueled by Web 2.0 technology. Just as cyberbullying is a nasty trend
in the consumer world, anonymous blogging can hurt business images and brands. In fact, the number
of incidents designed to harm companies – in many cases specifically targeted companies – is growing
dramatically. Companies will have to increase their cybervigilance and invest in countermeasures. Web
2.0 technology also empowers disgruntled employees who want to hurt their companies. Whistleblowing
will take on new forms through Web 2.0 channels.
As more and more Web 2.0 technologies get deployed, and as early impact is positively assessed, there
will be additional deployment and additional productivity. Momentum breeds momentum and the
second-order impact of the technologies will be felt as momentum grows. While simple-is-good today,
complex-and-powerful will eventually define tomorrow’s deployment of Web 2.0 and 3.0 technologies.
Web 3.0 technologies should be anticipated. Web 3.0 technologies include, according to Wikipedia:
“The emergence of ‘The Data Web’ as structured data records are published to the Web in reusable and remotely
queryable formats. The Data Web enables a new level of data integration and application interoperability,
making data as openly accessible and linkable asWeb pages. The DataWeb is the first step on the path towards
the full SemanticWeb. The full Semantic Web will widen the scope such that both structured data and even
what is traditionally thought of as unstructured or semi-structured content (such as Web pages, documents,
etc.) will be widely available in RDF and OWL semantic formats. Website parse templates will be used byWeb
3.0 crawlers to get more precise information about web sites’ structured content. Web 3.0 has also been used
to describe an evolutionary path for theWeb that leads to artificial intelligence that can reason about the Web
in a quasi-human fashion.”
Next generation Web technology will be proactive, intelligent, contextual, automated and adaptive. While
we have examined the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in this article, imagine the analyses of Web 3.0
technology adoption we will conduct. When technology integrates seamlessly into business processes at
all levels we can expect impact to be immediate and dramatic. The full potential of Web 3.0 is some years
away, but the drivers of Web 2.0 technology adoption provide clues to how ubiquitous Web 3.0 is likely
to become.
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