Interop
Commentary
5/22/2007
04:44 PM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
Commentary
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IT And Enterprise 2.0: Why They Need To Get Along

There's tension between IT departments and grassroots Web 2.0 efforts in the workplace. IT likes top-down hierarchies. The Web 2.0 crowd prefers free-form work styles. They need to get it together.

There's tension between IT departments and grassroots Web 2.0 efforts in the workplace. IT likes top-down hierarchies. The Web 2.0 crowd prefers free-form work styles. They need to get it together.How do most Web 2.0 tools -- blogs, wikis, and the like -- creep into the enterprise? Usually through a small group of workers that starts using them on their own. It spreads from there.

IT departments hate that kind of thing. It sets the alarm bells ringing.

But here's the problem: Enterprise 2.0 is too important for businesses to ignore. Its potential for improving productivity, efficiency, and innovation is enormous, and companies that forgo its tools will lose out to competitors who embrace them.

Enterprise 2.0 "represents a big shift in where innovation comes from," said consultant Dion Hinchcliffe, speaking Tuesday at Interop in Las Vegas. But, said Hinchcliffe, IT departments shouldn't be outsiders in the build-out of Enterprise 2.0. They need to be central players. "The users should drive the apps, IT needs to ruggedize them," said Hinchcliffe.

That is, IT needs to ensure that Enterprise 2.0 apps used in the workplace meet corporate requirements for security, privacy, and compliance. IT departments also have the capability of making data held within Enterprise 2.0 apps searchable across a corporation, thereby increasing its value.

Hinchcliffe pointed to America Online as a company where IT embraced a rogue social networking movement. "They didn't discourage it. They said, 'We'll give you a server and support it.' " As a result, AOL now has thousands of users sharing information over MediaWiki, without comprising security or infrastructure stability, according to Hinchcliffe.

So why do businesses need Enterprise 2.0 in the first place?

Hinchcliffe said the ease with which workers can share and preserve information through blogs and wikis makes it the best way to tap their collective brainpower: "Once you lower the barriers to communication, amazing things can happen."

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