Web 2.0 technologies facing shake-out

Social networking tools and internal WIKIs will have the greatest impact on workplace collaboration, according to research that tracks the business value, maturity, and future adoption of enterprise Web 2.0 collaboration tools.

Forrester Research's TechRadar methodology says that technologies such as forums and RSS have a future in the enterprise, but are currently underused, while podcasts have a limited future as an enterprise tool to increase productivity and enhance collaboration.

Web 2.0 collaboration technologies solve problems that enterprises have today, but most companies have not used these tools anywhere near their potential, says Oliver Young, analyst, Forrester Research: "While so much of the buzz around Web 2.0 has focused on the business-to-consumer market, the greatest opportunity today for vendors is in the business-to-business collaboration space."

Some Web 2.0 collaboration technologies have shown a faster-than-normal life cycle, Young adds, so it is critical for vendors to take stock of the enterprise tools that have the greatest long-term potential and invest wisely in those technologies."

Forrester previously estimated the enterprise Web 2.0 collaboration market will hit $1.8 bn by 2013. The enterprise Web 2.0 TechRadar study is based upon an analysis of previous research and interviews with industry experts, vendors responsible for building or implementing these technologies, and enterprise customers and users.

Web 2.0 collaboration technologies that will continue to experience growth include:

  • Social networks Social networks provide context to content. Cultural resistance exists, but Forrester believes that this will break, allowing workers to ‘connect with like-minded colleagues’, and enabling ‘a collaboration channel that previously didn't exist in the enterprise’.
  • Wikis One of the most promising Web 2.0 technologies for the enterprise, users report success with Wiki endeavours, particularly when sponsored by business leaders and connected to business processes, and the market shows signs of strong growth.
  • Blogging Social networks will breathe new life into internal blogs by providing more context to blogged content, but Forrester found that blogging alone does not capture the attention of an enterprise audience.
  • RSS This ubiquitous technology provides a mechanism to get content to people where they need it, rather than expecting people to find it.

Other Web 2.0 technologies on their way out are Podcasting and Forums. Users told Forrester that podcasts in the context of enterprise productivity and collaboration are neither very engaging nor immersive, and the vendor landscape is shrinking. While forums will continue on as a fundamental enabling technology for collaboration, the marketplace is flat, and forums will become part of larger community-focused packages.

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