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IW500: Is Twitter Ready For IT?

One of the more interesting conversations I got into at the opening reception of the InformationWeek 500 Sunday night was with a man who came to me with fire in his eye, challenging me whether I thought Twitter is a useful tool for business IT. I think he was surprised at my view: I think so, but I don't know for sure.
One of the more interesting conversations I got into at the opening reception of the InformationWeek 500 Sunday night was with a man who came to me with fire in his eye, challenging me whether I thought Twitter is a useful tool for business IT. I think he was surprised at my view: I think so, but I don't know for sure.He works for an internationally recognized and respected software company, and is very familiar with Twitter. He said he had difficulty finding conversations relevant to corporate IT.

I've been thinking about this over the last couple of days. It seems to me, looking back over the last 15 years, that corporate IT has been slow to adopt Internet technologies in general. They were slow getting onto the Internet in the 90s, and they've been slow to adopt Twitter and other social media.

As part of setting up the IW500, we've asked conference attendees to give us their Twitter handles. I personally checked the handles to see how many were actually active on Twitter. I won't tell you how many handles we collected because, frankly, I'm not sure whether my colleagues will think that information is proprietary. But I'll tell you this: The number was small enough that I was able to check it myself, and it didn't take a huge long time either.

How many the conference attendees are actually active on Twitter (as opposed to giving us handles for dormant accounts): Fewer than 2%.

That sounds shockingly low--but is it? If you surveyed people in Silicon Valley, or the random population on Main Street, USA, would the number be any higher?

You that you can find good IT conversations on Twitter, but you have to know where to look for them. I recently became attached to our InformationWeek Healthcare site, and have seen some interesting and relevant information on Twitter about health IT.

We're integrating Twitter into the InformationWeek 500 and I have a couple of goals in mind for that project: I'm a Twitter evangelist, and I'd like to get our corporate IT community fired up about Twitter and other social media, and how it can be used to foster communications across organizational boundaries, geographical distance, and how it can flatten hierarchies, just as blogs, wikis, e-mail, and other Internet technologies have done.

And if we can't do that here, well, we'll need to think about that.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on why businesses shouldn't shrug off Google's upcoming Chrome OS. Download the report here (registration required).