Web 2.0: Wikis, blogs, RSS aim for the workplace
Business managers like promise of collaboration
IDG News Service - As businesses worldwide debate the pros and cons of using wikis, tagging, Web mashups, syndicated feeds and blogs, the Web 2.0 Expo opened Sunday in San Francisco with a gaggle of vendors betting these Internet tools belong in the workplace.
The promise of simplified and more effective collaboration among employees, partners and clients has caught the attention of business managers. Still, although a hit among consumers, these Web 2.0 products must meet special requirements for business use in areas like availability, performance, scalability and security.
"Some aspects of Web 2.0 are viewed as attractive by businesses. It's just a case of getting over the hurdles," said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group. "Clearly, the market is moving in this direction, but many things prevent it from moving very quickly."
Vendors backing Web 2.0 in the workplace say new tools, like wikis, can significantly improve how employees collaborate on projects. They also point out that blogs can be effective marketing tools if they are used wisely, while syndicated feeds can improve communications that aren't efficiently handled by e-mail.
Web 2.0 proponents have also embraced the concept of hosted business applications, saying they also encourage sharing and collaboration among employees while reducing the complexity of software management and hardware expenses.
Yet each cheerleading argument also has a flip side. Companies that used hosted applications run a risk that their data might be compromised or that the applications may be unavailable. They also give up control over whether and when to upgrade those applications.
Critics also warn that companies must evaluate how and whether these new tools will integrate with their existing infrastructure and what level of support the vendors, many of them start-ups, can offer.
Just last month, Google Apps, Google Inc.'s hosted communication and collaboration suite for businesses, suffered three major outages in its Gmail service. Some affected customers complained that Google failed on its pledge of 99.9% uptime for the suite's fee-based edition.
"There has been more reluctance to adopt Internet-based tools by large companies, but less resistance among SMBs," said Greg Sterling, an analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence.
Aggravated with Microsoft Corp.'s Word, Shelli Kesler, senior research scientist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, did a Web search for an alternative word processor and found AdventNet Inc.'s free Zoho Writer. Three months later, Zoho Writer is her primary word processor, because it's a hosted application that she can use whenever she is online.
"I don't have to worry about remembering to send what I've done or worry about which draft is the most current. It's very convenient to work on things in multiple locations," said Kesler, who has gotten some colleagues to adopt the product as well.
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