If management and employees could get over their mutual trust issues, Web 2.0 applications--more specifically, social software--could take off in the enterprise.
Wikis and blogs have hopped over the consumer-market fence into the enterprise backyard. Now social software--which lets employees create digital corporate dialogues and workspaces--has a promising future, according to a report by the Burton Group. The question is: Can employers trust worker bees not to spend too much time surfing, tagging and chatting? And can employees trust anyone enough to publicly share ideas from water-cooler chats and closed-door brainstorming sessions?
Enlightened decision-making may make up for what is not yet a clear revenue stream from the applications. The goal is to spin strategy at all ranks, encouraging a free-flowing exchange between top-level managers and "social capital," meaning everybody else in the firm. Users could tag content, blog on projects, interact in real time and then search the entire forum or use RSS to get updates on keyword topics.
What won't work is attempting to mine employee opinions in an atmosphere of distrust. "You want to build community and relationships so that people feel they should share," says Burton Group analyst Mike Gotta. --Rivka Gewirtz-Little