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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Networking. The use of LinkedIn Corp.s networking service saved Jeff Hoffman from making a major hiring blunder last December.

Hoffman, CEO of Basho Strategies Inc., a sales training firm in Burlington, Mass., was interviewing applicants for a midlevel business development position. As part of the process of collecting references, Hoffmann sent queries to people listed in the Linked­In networks of the most promising candidates.

The feedback he got on one job seeker was particularly revealing. "Two people responded that she was abrasive, didnt work well with salespeople and had not had much success in her jobs. But what was really interesting was that one of them was from a company not listed on her résumé," says Hoffman. "The feedback was enormously important, because any new hire exposes us to a big risk. It's arguably the most expensive mistake you can make."

Social networking software can be used externally to enable a companys customers to connect with one another, as well as internally to enable employees in large companies to link up. For example, Hawaiian Airlines plans to use SharePoint Servers blog, people search and MySite features to create a Web-based community for employees, and it is considering something similar for its customers, who are mostly vacation travelers.

The MySite feature provides a place for employees to list their skills and experience, colleagues, association memberships, latest projects and other information, and it permits others to search the profiles by keyword.

"Internally, we're looking at department sites where groups could add news, photos, commentary, planned activities and improvements to working practices," says Osborne. "Its basically a set of community sites with interactive content."

Project Management and Collaboration. Web 2.0 technologies are also being leveraged as project management aids, either alone or as part of larger project management applications.

RT Logic, a maker of satellite systems in Colorado Springs, relies on the wiki function in Code­Beamer, a configuration management tool from Intland Software, to document the progress of products in development. The company currently has 117 wikis that engineers use as their communication channels for projects.

James Sullivan, configuration manager at RT Logic, says lightweight wikis are ideal for project collaboration because of the ease with which engineers can add comments. Its also possible to revert to prior versions of a wiki if a mistake is made.

"It's a living document that progresses as the development progresses. It's very flexible and easy to use," says Sullivan. "Since we can back up and see what the history was, it gives us a snapshot of where we've been and where we are now."

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