Enterprise IT needs to take a practical approach to social networking technologies being marketed to business as
Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0, according to Mike Gotta, a principal analyst for Burton Group's Collaboration and Content Strategies Service.
While blogs, wikis and social networking sites such as Facebook are new applications based on Web services and Ajax technologies, he notes that the concept of collaboration for business dates back to Lotus Notes in the 1980s. And IBM with the Lotus franchise remains a player as businesses contemplate the Web 2.0 world, Gotta writes. Collaboration products from Oracle Corp. and Microsoft will also be safe choices for external applications for use by customers, business partners and suppliers.
For internal applications used by knowledge workers, large enterprises are also likely to stick with the major vendors and their partners to avoid integration headaches, Gotta writes in "Trends in Social Software", a Burton report released this past week.
"Few organizations are willing to deploy blog, wiki, social bookmark systems, feed syndication platforms and social networking solutions that do not align and integrate with their core collaboration and content management platforms," Gotta writes. "Specialized vendors that work with IBM, Microsoft and Oracle environments will realize greater acceptance by IT organizations than those vendors that require complex integration efforts."
Internally, for the Enterprise 2.0 concept of greater knowledge worker productivity through wikis to work, it will take more than just new tools, the Burton analyst says.
The introduction of a wiki inside a corporation needs to be explained in terms that will make sense to the business people being asked to use it.
"For instance," Gotta writes, "rather than allude to how wikis democratize participation and foster community building, a solution should be described in terms understandable by the average worker." He suggests that in an insurance company this might take the form of saying: "We need a way for teams of underwriters to collaborate on standardized language templates used to produce customized benefit booklets for our customers."
The rules and regulations that govern business are different than those of the college dorm where many of the Web 2.0 technologies, such as Facebook, first gained popularity. So Gotta recommends that business implementations of social networking technology need to follow the path of the "pragmatic social revolution."
Whatever the advantages of a less hierarchical managerial structure with distributed decision making, business rules will still have to be followed after the revolution.
"Many core functions, for example, require formal and structured approaches that satisfy regulatory, reporting, auditing, and other compliance-related demands," the Burton analyst points out.
One of the headings in his report suggests a basic philosophy: "Playing It Safe Internally."