Businesses warned: Don't rush into Web 2.0

Social-networking technology could prove to be an expensive 'white elephant' for companies, says Gartner

Social networking could turn out to be a costly "white elephant" for businesses that rush to invest in the technology.

Many companies are thinking about whether they can take advantage of social-networking technology but analysts at Gartner are warning corporates against getting caught up in all the Web 2.0 hype.

Businesses are advised to consider certain issues before investing in or developing internal social-networking tools. These include protecting personal intellectual property, and people's preference for using existing non-professional external networks such as Bebo, Facebook and MySpace.

With Facebook saying it will license its developer platform to other organisations, it could soon be even easier for companies to develop their own social networks.

But the Gartner report says the hype around social networking doesn't necessarily mean it's a mature enough technology to make it a critical business requirement.

There is also little evidence that social networking will be as beneficial for businesses as other web-based communications technology, such as instant messaging and VoIP.

Ultimately, Gartner suggests, the value of social-networking technology comes from content rather than the product itself.

The analyst recommends IT departments should think very carefully before committing to expensive "social-networking white elephants".

Also bringing business and social networking together, business network LinkedIn this month said it will allow third parties to develop applications for its site and allow them to take LinkedIn content to other sites.

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