Enterprise 2.0: Progress is mixed, but experimentation is cheap

The state of enterprise 2.0 reveals spotty progress and a separation between key technologies.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

The state of enterprise 2.0 reveals spotty progress and a separation between key technologies. For instance, wikis are in, podcasts are out and blogs are somewhere in between within the corporation.

In two Forrester reports (here and here), the research firm hits on a few key themes:

  • Companies and their IT workers need to plan for enterprise 2.0 since collaboration technologies will be critical amid global workforces, telecommuting and virtual teams.
  • There's a conflict between the urge to rush to install Web 2.0 apps before users dictate IT policies and enterprise strength apps.
  • Companies aren't ready for Web 2.0. Policies for Web applications are lacking and IT managers haven't worked through the Web 2.0 headaches.
  • The motives for enterprise 2.0 apps vary greatly. Some companies will look to things like wikis as a knowledge management system to suck knowledge from baby boomers before they retire. Other workers look at social networking to swap information. And the so-called millennials will expect every enterprise application to look like Facebook.

But perhaps the biggest takeaway is that not all enterprise 2.0 categories are created equal. While these technologies vary in their business cases they do share one common characteristic: They aren't terribly expensive. It's not like we're talking a 3-year $100 million project here. My take companies should be playing around with this stuff given the upfront investment is minimal.

This chart gives you a timeline to ponder:

Here's a sampling of what's in and out:


Wikis: These applications raise security concerns, but do generate a return as a way to collaborate and manage projects. In fact, Forrester reckons that CIOs no longer need to justify deploying wikis. Vendors include: Atlassian’s Confluence, IBM, MediaWiki, Microsoft, PBWiki, Socialtext, Traction Software, Twiki. Costs to implement: Anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000, but there are software as a service options for less. Social networks: These applications are the real deal and "provide context to content," argues Forrester. Think cheap knowledge management system with arguably better ROI (social networking had a lot of interest at the Gartner Symposium last month). Costs to implement: Anywhere from $20,000 to $300,000. Vendors include: IBM, IGLOO, Jive Software, Microsoft, NewsGator Technologies, Telligent Systems.

Widgets: These lightweight apps are a way to broadcast data to reach employees anywhere. Costs to implement: $25,000 without development time. Vendors: Clearspring Technologies, Gigya, NewsGator Technologies, Widgetbox, Worklight.

Forums: If you deliver a service, forums may be a nice way to aggregate information. Vendors: EllisLab, IBM, Invision Power Services, Jive Software, Microsoft, Groupee’s UBB.threads, Jelsoft Enterprises’ vBulletin. Costs to implement: $2,000 to $10,000.

Out, but could be in:

RSS feeds: These information feeds are common for Webheads, but enterprises don't appreciate the potential. Overall, RSS can be a great way to broadcast information to workers. Costs to implement: Feed creation is free, but the RSS server will run you $40,000 to $80,000. Vendors: Attensa, NewsGator Technologies, /n Software’s RSSBus.


Microblogging. Forrester writes:

The current darlings of media attention, microblogs appeal to both the egocentrism and the voyeurism of Web 2.0 aficionados. While few enterprise microblog solutions are more than a year old, microblogging enjoys significant buzz these days. Many blogging vendors, like Six Apart and Automattic, have already begun to incorporate microblogging support into their product sets. In all, Forrester expects enterprise microblogs to become a feature, not a standalone product category, though in either case, the technology is in its infancy.

Enough said. The good news is microblogging is cheap--$1 to $5 per user or free if you don't sweat security. Vendors include: Automattic’s Prologue for WordPress, CoreMedia’s Trillr, Event Robot’s Socialcast, Yammer.

Podcasts: Forrester notes podcasting is a nice way to distribute information, but do you really want work on your iPod? Didn't think so. I'd argue there has to be some worker training potential though. Vendors include: Brainshark, Genetic Hosting’s PodKive, PodTech.net, VoloMedia, Whatiwantpodcasting.com. Costs to implement: Anywhere from $500 for something basic and $8,000 to $12,000 to your typical deployment.Forrester details other technologies in its report and if you added up the costs you'd be hard-pressed to spend more than $1 million (of course company size would change that equation).

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