September 24, 2008

Web 2.0: Changing the Way Enterprises Think About IT

Technology vendors and industry commentators have been appending the '2.0' suffix to all manner of enterprise products and domains over the last year or so in an attempt to signify something new, innovative and user-focused.

Web 2.0 is a shift in the way the internet is used. It involves a more open approach to the internet, and user-generated content in particular, such as blogs, podcasts, social media and special-interest review sites. However, the ideas, concepts, tools, and technologies behind consumer-oriented social networking software are now being re-shaped and re-modeled for enterprise use. Social software, collaboration, and real-time communications are now pivotal parts of Enterprise Web 2.0, which in turn are acting as conduits for new ideas and practices.

The social aspects of Web 2.0 are mirrored in the corporate world of Enterprise Web 2.0. The management of customer, employee, partner, and stakeholder relationships is vital for all organizations, and workforce mobility and changing communication patterns are two more trends that are driving change at the infrastructure layer. As such, unified communication and collaboration requirements are an important part of Enterprise 2.0 strategies.

Enterprise Web 2.0 is underpinned by the broader concept of Enterprise 2.0; a paradigm shift relating to Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and IT virtualization. In some circles, the terms 'Enterprise Web 2.0' and 'Enterprise 2.0' are used interchangeably to describe the application of Web 2.0 ideas and technologies in business; however, a clear distinction exists between the use of these two terms, and this differentiation is important to maintain, as it enables more meaningful discussions to be had when examining the future role of IT within a business.

Selecting and implementing enterprise social software solutions, next-generation collaboration solutions, and rich internet applications requires careful thought, consideration, and planning. The driving force behind every aspect of Enterprise Web 2.0 is the experience of the end user, whether that be employee, customer, partner or stakeholder. This means that all organizations must reassess their IT strategies in view of this clear and distinct shift in direction.