Survey: Web 2.0 pays off for early adopters

BOSTON?A recent survey found that most organizations get unexpected results when they launch Web 2.0 technologies.

The goal of such efforts is usually to improve relationships with partners and customers. However, the technologies' biggest effect usually is improved collaboration within the organization, said Jonathan Yarmis, research director of disruptive technologies at AMR Research, the firm that conducted the survey.

Yarmis led a panel discussion at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference that examined how organizations are implementing the new technologies and what impact they are having.

Looking for Web 2.0 technology that helps with an enterprise's core tasks is one of the keys to a successful implementation, said Tom Gonser, vice president of product strategy at Seattle-based DocuSign Inc. The company provides an online place for businesses to execute contracts with their customers.

"They're taking a business transaction and putting it into the Web space," Gonser said, referring to implementation efforts. "It lets their customers, business partners and internal people access and execute that contract in a controlled way to close more business faster."

Enterprise 2.0 tools that help employees do day-to-day tasks, such as negotiating contracts, is the best way to start implementing the technology, he said. The challenge for organizations is to not put too many boundaries on the social-interaction aspects of the technology. Over-restriction often leads to little-used tools.

Although pitfalls associated with the technology do exist, it is still new enough that it can have unexpected results, said J.B. Holston, chief executive officer at Newsgator Technologies Inc., a provider of social-computing tools.

An organization's youngest employees, for example, are not necessarily going to be the biggest adopters of Web 2.0 technology.

"One of our big clients is Lockheed Martin, and they found an unexpected dynamic, which is the folks with a lot more tenure are contributing a lot more, a lot earlier [to social intranets]," he said.

The unexpected trend helps the collaboration sites compile valuable information, and the participation of experienced workers also sends a signal to new employees that it is OK to share information and collaborate on ideas.

Organizations and their integrator partners should try to implement Web 2.0 technologies piecemeal manner rather then spending a lot of time planning how the new technology will touch every part of an agency.

"Don't take 18 months to?try and figure out what the whole world ought to look like and then hope that this big thing you're going to implement a year after that is actually going to work," he said.

Once a piece of Web 2.0 technology is implemented, offer it to the broadest audience possible, several panel members said. A larger number of people allowed to participate in a social site gives the site the best chance for valuable activity.

"If you constrain a social network too much, it is not very social," Holston said.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

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