Web 2.0 is now firmly adopted by the mainstream. The read/write web has been here for more than 6 years or so now and is found in both our work and personal life. It is an interesting observation that adoption appears to have coincided with a shift in culture regarding the amount and type of data people are willing to share with each other. Not to mention the increasing popularity of social networks, blogs and feedback based review websites such as Amazon and eBay.
Blogs, RSS, Wikipedia, Google, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter et al are increasingly being used by both businesses and consumers alike. They are tools which are intuitive and require little or no training. What was once a very distinct line between work and leisure is now very blurred. Funnily enough this also coincides with more flexibility in the workplace and more cross over between social connections for both business and personal use.
It is making life very interesting from a work perspective. I am finding that more and more customers want to use Web 2.0 technology for business reasons. Examples include capturing all of that information held by employees who may be retiring soon, or improving the way that they share information and documents with employees, business partners and customers. Taking it to a further extreme, some customers even describe new application features as being required to work a bit like feature ‘x’ in Facebook for example.
The 1990’s corporate “knowledge management” tools are now looking seriously dated. These tools are often unusable compared to their modern Web 2.0 counterparts. Often they are not used by employees and usually don’t fit into the business processes. More often than not they are a bolt on task that most employees quickly forget about. Social networks are driven by user numbers, functionality and usability. With usability often being a key factor in their adoption.
It is clear to me that the technology is going to get better and more innovative. Google Wave and Office 2010 make excellent use of presence for example. The way the toolsets approach collaborative working will remove traditional location boundaries. In addition users are now becoming more demanding and specific with regards to usability and look and feel.
Adoption of Web 2.0 will increase further as companies develop applications that make it a “no-brainer” to integrate with social networks. The net result being more adoption, more usage, and more data being uploaded to the internet. This will lead to more opportunities and threats.
All of this brings new personal and corporate risks and concerns especially from a security angle – these need to be managed appropriately. In part this includes knowingly accepting the risk you are taking when you sign up and use such tools. Picturing what the future will bring, a few different but related items regarding further adoption of such technologies spring to mind.
1. Will information security concerns prevent the adoption of these tools? – I doubt it
2. Will the IT environment in the workplace start to look and feel more like our consumer world? – certainly
3. Is traditional IT at risk as technologies converge and offer a lower TCO for the business? – probably
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Mark Walton-Hayfield is a Consulting Enterprise Architect working in the Outsourcing CTO Team in the UK.