No rush to adopt Web 2.0

Businesses in Asia maintain a conservative view of blogs, wikis and podcasts, despite the perceived importance of these Web 2.0 tools.
Written by Isabelle Chan, Contributor
[? template("/zd/insight/specialreports/itpriorities/07/templates/masthead.htm"); ?]
[? template("/zd/common/story/maincolumn_story_pagefunctions_top.htm",$OID); ?] [? template("/zd/common/story/maincolumn_story_byline.htm",$OID); ?]

IT decision makers in Asia are not in a hurry to implement Web 2.0 in their business, despite the increasing popularity of tools such as wikis and blogs.

In ZDNet Asia's IT priorities survey, about 14 percent of respondents did not think the Web 2.0 applications mentioned in the survey were important for their business, while a 19.7 percent had either not adopted or had no intention to adopt the tools.

Graeme Philipson, an independent IT industry analyst commissioned by ZDNet Asia to analyze the survey results, said: "Many of these technologies are in their infancy, and the level of interest means that many organizations are considering the use of Web 2.0 technologies but waiting for the market to mature."

Blogs garnered the most number of votes (22.9 percent) in terms of importance, followed by wikis (20.1 percent), podcasts/video casts (19.6 percent), and social networking sites like MySpace (16.2 percent).


However, across the board, a lower percentage of respondents said they had adopted or planned to adopt the tools. For example, 22.9 percent said blogs were important, but only 18.5 percent said they planned to adopt the online tool.

Industry observers whom ZDNet Asia spoke to were not surprised with these findings.

John Brand, director of analyst firm Hydrasight, said: "While everyone talks about the success and benefit of these new technologies, very few people tend to talk about the risks. Most organizations, in our experience, adopt a wait-and-see approach to the introduction of any new technology based on unacceptable cost and risk."

According to Brand, some organizations trial or roll out a new technology "for publicity purposes, or to pitch themselves to prospective employees and customers as being cutting-edge".

"Properly managed, blogs, wikis, podcasts and social networking can improve communication with customers, but improperly managed, they can pose security or reputation risks for companies."
-- Allan Bell, Asia-Pacific marketing director of security company McAfee

"The fact is, the majority of new technology solutions are abandoned by organizations over the short- to mid-term, if they can't be relatively quickly institutionalized within day-to-day business operations," he added.

Allan Bell, Asia-Pacific marketing director of security company McAfee, said security may be a reason for the low level of interest in adopting Web 2.0 tools.

"Properly managed, blogs, wikis, podcasts and social networking can improve communication with customers, but improperly managed, they can pose security or reputation risks for companies," Bell said.

Greg Dixon, Cisco Systems' IT director for Asia-Pacific and Japan, agreed that the decision-making process for Web 2.0 technologies is no different from the evaluation of other business decisions.

Dixon noted: "We don't see anything unusual about Web 2.0 adoption from any other new business capability as it comes to market. There are early adopters who see, and rapidly seize, an opportunity in order to yield the early benefits that add to competitive advantage."

[? template("/zd/insight/specialreports/itpriorities/07/templates/rightcolumn_story.htm",$OID); ?]

[? template("/zd/insight/specialreports/itpriorities/07/templates/masthead.htm"); ?]
[? template("/zd/common/story/maincolumn_story_pagefunctions_top.htm",$OID); ?] [? template("/zd/common/story/maincolumn_story_byline.htm",$OID); ?]

"However, just like all new technologies, over time there will be maturity and consolidation as the market decides what it really is looking for," he added.

Industry observers agreed that new technology adoption is a question that rests with each individual IT decision maker, who will have to decide based on a clear understanding of the company's strategic business direction.

"Those who are perhaps more conservative and waiting for greater stability are potentially risking loss of early advantage, [but] are also lowering the risk of rapid change," noted Dixon. "Each organization has to decide what, how and when to adopt Web 2.0, as [it does] with any other technology."

"Each organization has to decide what, how and when to adopt Web 2.0, as [it does] with any other technology."
-- Greg Dixon, Cisco Systems' IT director for Asia-Pacific and Japan

Who gets a Second Life
Despite being in the media spotlight, virtual worlds seem to have made a smaller impact on IT decision makers. Only 9.9 percent of respondents viewed setting up presence in virtual worlds like Second Life, as important, and an even lower percentage (7.7 percent) said they had done so or planned to.

On why blogs, compared to virtual worlds, were viewed as important by more respondents, Bell suggested: "Most organizations block access to Second Life during business hours. [In comparison,] blogs can provide an informal yet up-to-date communication path to customers."

Dixon said these Web 2.0 tools are more easily understood by determining the different types of communication and collaboration opportunities offered by each tool.

"Blogs perform a simple, yet effective, way to encapsulate the corporate knowledge. Virtual-reality social networking spaces such as Second Life, in future will offer collaboration opportunities such as virtual classrooms with attendees from all over the world. They offer different responses to the solutions portfolio," he added.

The Cisco executive believes it is a matter of time before more businesses warm up to virtual worlds. He explained that just as e-mail addresses took time to be adopted, where owning an e-mail address is now "foundational" to technologies such as blogs, so will virtual identities, which are required for virtual social network spaces, take time to be adopted.

"The real power, however, is not in comparing these technologies but rather in integrating them, which produce a potency multiplier effect," Dixon said.

However, Hydrasight's Brand sees Second Life as "simply the next wave in the land grab".

"We saw it in the 1990s in the fight over high-value domain names, and now we're seeing individuals and organizations becoming besotted with the idea that you can create value by creating your own piece of virtual 3D real estate," he said. "Quite frankly, I'd be surprised to see Second Life [getting] more than a fraction of interest from organizations compared to other technologies."

Highlighting the business dilemma, Brand said: "It's opportunistic. No one is really sure what the business value is or potentially could be, other than the consultants and software vendors selling the delicious idea that we could all be millionaires in our own little virtual world.

"Problems usually emerge when the entrepreneurial individual clashes with everyday real-world issues of simply trying to maintain competitiveness and relevance of their existing business, in a rapidly changing marketplace," he added. "Second Life has its place, of course, but in reality it is still more akin to trading 'football cards' right now than being a real and viable virtual economy. Give it 20 or more years, perhaps."

[? template("/zd/insight/specialreports/itpriorities/07/templates/rightcolumn_story.htm",$OID); ?]

Editorial standards