The buzz about Web 2.0 is deafening. Perhaps I'm especially attuned to it, as I also work on CMP's joint venture with O'Reilly Media, the Web 2.0 Conference. If you haven't heard of it, or aren't clear about its meaning, check out Tim O'Reilly's original article from 2005, and follow the seemingly endless discussions from there. The term provides an umbrella for several concepts that inform many recent successful web startups such as Del.icio.us, Flickr and Basecamp (which I've written about previously). But when you look at the long list of companies that are cast in the Web 2.0 mold already, the value of these offerings to an IT leader or business manager can seem overwhelming. So I can convert my blog texts to podcasts, and there are over forty social bookmarking sites out there, but how does Web 2.0 help me in an enterprise or workgroup setting?
The answer to this question in my view is that Web 2.0 in the enterprise is by and large Collaboration 2.0, and it goes beyond the realm of the hip start ups that target the long tail. The problems that Web 2.0 applications and services are best at solving are ones of group communication, collective intelligence, and user empowerment, and so wikis and blogs, for example, are finding their way into corporations large and small despite the lack of a giant push from powerful enterprise IT vendors. But speaking of powerful enterprise IT vendors, Web 2.0 is making its mark here as well. Collaboration giant IBM, for example, announced QEDwiki, which will let users create their own Web pages by dragging and dropping components onto a pallet, and is experimenting with features like tagging in upcoming versions of its collaboration suites.
Collaboration 2.0 doesn't just mean collaboration with a Web 2.0 veneer to it. Interest in collaboration is rising at the moment because of globalization, the opportunity to take advantage of converged networks, the increasingly connected nature of work, and a wide variety of other factors, but one important thing that's enabling this is a new understanding of how people really work together. Decentralization and user empowerment are part of the picture, but security, regulatory compliance and corporate cultures are critical pieces of the puzzle in an enterprise setting, and Collaboration 2.0 encompasses all of these. It has been a key goal of ours with CTC 2006 to define the next generation of collaborative tools and practices informed by all these new trends, and bring them together in a way that is most relevant and applicable to you. We'll find out in three weeks whether we've achieved that.
In the meantime, the buzz around Collaboration 2.0 is rising to a dull roar as well, with CTC looking like it may sell out in the coming weeks. If you've been planning to attend but haven't made your plans yet, be aware that registration numbers have been higher than expected, and we may have to close the doors due to space constraints. (CTC is designed as an intimate event, with ample opportunity for networking and dialogue, and we'd like to keep it that way.)