Making Web 2.0 work for your business

Yahoo's CIO Lars Rabbe claims social-networking technologies could help companies tackle the problem of how to better manage and retrieve unstructured information

Web 2.0 isn't just about helping kids find new mates on social-networking sites — it could also solve one of the trickiest problems facing businesses.

The same technologies used to build reputations and communities on networking sites could also be used to help companies make better use of the vast piles of unstructured data they have hanging around in their databases, according to Lars Rabbe, chief information officer of Internet giant Yahoo, kicking off a series of exclusive interviews — the CIO Vision Series.

Speaking in the interview — which you can watch here — Rabbe said: "Web 2.0 is really the ability for a lot of people to produce content, and the social network really has all the elements that will allow you to discern the quality of the content and find the right content."

He added: "You can find the information, you have an overlay of reputations and rating and community that allow you to know exactly what it is that you are looking at."

And these techniques that allow Web users to trust content can also be used by business, he said. "One of the big challenges that we've had for many years and one of the last great frontiers of CIO-dom is the ability to organise and retrieve unstructured information.

"We still haven't broken the issue of unstructured information. There are lots of content management systems around and lots of document management systems but it still doesn't give you that assessment of quality and I think the tools that we are developing for social network and Web 2.0 are really going to be very applicable inside the enterprise to solve this problem."

And he revealed that building the credibility of the tech team is vital if the department is to be involved with innovative projects.

Rabbe said: "As a CIO, one of the things I've experienced in several companies is that you absolutely have to have the interaction between IT and engineering, R&D and so on. Usually that only happens if you can establish a reputation for the IT department, that... creates the basis for that interaction.

"That really comes out of IT creating great products that demonstrate they can do the innovation as well as the R&D people."

Next up in the CIO Vision Series of interviews — Stephen Tame, chief information officer of Jetstar, the low-cost offshoot of Australian national carrier Qantas.