Web 2.0 must serve business purpose

update Social networking and collaboration tools should be adopted not for technology's sake, but to support business directives, says Singapore Poly CIO.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

update Web 2.0 must serve a business purpose, said Singapore Polytechnic CIO Chang Boon Hai.

Web 2.0 tools should not be implemented "for the sake of technology", but to support a business directive, said Chang, who was speaking at an IBM press briefing Wednesday, on the educational institution's planned central online portal for its students.

Singapore Polytechnic is in the midst of linking up its disparate backend IT systems into a central portal that will give students an easier mode of accessing school-related information. The polytechnic is also putting in social networking features such as forums and bulletin boards to facilitate conversation.

After receiving the directive from the board, to "use the Internet to create exciting services" in order to engage the 4,000 "Gen Y students" who join the polytechnic each year, the IT department found social networking tools would fulfil the board's intended outcome.

But the eventual portal would have to live up to industry standards, said Chang.

These "Gen Y" users demand online services of a standard similar to what they are used to, such as Facebook, he said.

After running a proof of concept in 2007 of possible systems, the school decided to build its portal with IBM WebSphere and Quickr products. It tied six different backend systems, including a student administration system running on PeopleSoft software, Blackboard for its course management system and Microsoft Windows Live for e-mail, he said.

The school is currently running a pilot trial of 3,000 students, and is in the midst of procuring new servers for the final roll out, which would affect some 13,000 students come February 2010.

New ways to tap public conversation
Singapore-based Donut Empire is also jumping on the Web 2.0 bandwagon. The local chain launched a blog site two weeks ago, after a planning period of six months with its Web design company and IBM, according to its co-founder.

Steven Chiew, executive director, Donut Empire, said the company hopes its blog site would make the company more accessible to the public, so they can submit feedback and requests for new donut flavors.

Donut Empire also hopes the use of Web 2.0 tools would help it address its business objectives such as communicating with its employees and franchisees, as well as quicken the response time to their questions, said Chiew.

The chain, which owns 13 outlets in Singapore, plans to open five more in the country by the end of the year. It is also opening four in Malaysia, one in Dubai, three in Indonesia and another in India, according to Chiew.

Referring to a December 2008 study, Michael Barnes, vice president, software and Asia-Pacific research, Springboard Research, said investment in collaboration tools has become a number one priority, up from number five in 2007 and 2008.

The survey of 442 organizations in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, found that the need to cut down travel costs--which has become an even greater focus in recent months--has been driving the need for "alternative" methods of communication.

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