Web 2.0 Goes Corporate

Tools like wikis and podcasts can provide significant advantages to a business. But CIOs have been slow to embrace these lightweight Web technologies.

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But until recently, CIOs and other top executives have been slower to recognize their value.

"Companies look at this and say, 'I understand the technology; I just have no idea how I can make this part of my corporate activities,'" says Ron Schmelzer, an analyst at ZapThink LLC in Waltham, Mass.

CIOs also have concerns about security, governance, IT support and integration of Web 2.0 applications with existing systems. And the very nature of Web 2.0 distributed and egalitarian makes some managers nervous. "Web 2.0 is decentralized," explains Schmelzer. "Theres no centralized authority to mandate or control."

Major vendors of Web 2.0 tools for corporate use are addressing these concerns, however. They are adding management and security features, and some are assembling these tools into suites that can be implemented and administered as a platform.

Meanwhile, more businesses are experimenting with Web 2.0 tools for a wide range of activities, from content management to employee recruitment.

The Case for Web 2.0

Information Management. Honolulu-based Hawaiian Airlines Inc. recently grappled with the problem of how to organize and pare down a glut of content built up over time by customer service staff in airports, at the airlines call center and on its Web site.

"We had a ton of duplicate data. We have people at the airport answering the same questions as the phone reservation people and the Web site," explains CIO David Osborne. Each group was creating its own content.

The airline wanted to consolidate all that content into one repository that could be easily referenced, searched and updated by the service staff. The solution: a single customer service FAQ on a wiki, using the Web 2.0 features in Micro­soft Corp.s SharePoint Server 2007. Now we can have all of that data in one place," says Osborne.

Wikis arent the only Web 2.0 tools used for information management. The Discovery Channels Educator Network, an online community of teachers, uses a Web-based collaborative data­base Dabble DB from Smallthought Systems Inc. to manage its list of 11,000 education-related events.

Instead of Discovery Channel staffers collecting information and posting it to the Web site, the Educator Network's 2,500 "Star Educator" volunteer teachers remotely update the information pertaining to their own regional and online events.

This approach has saved the Discovery Channel approximately 75 staff hours per week, says Steve Dembo, online community manager for the network, adding, "By having it in Dabble, we're able to pull out all kinds of reports that we weren't able to before.

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