September 20, 2006 3:57 PM PDT
Web 2.0 entering corporate world slowly
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In addition, corporations have thorny integration issues dealing with already-installed monolithic applications, panelists said. For example, populating a wiki with information from a customer support system could require hand-coding and ongoing maintenance chores.
As of now, many Web 2.0 applications, such as hosted versions of desktop applications, have an inherent limitation in that they don't function if the network goes down, said Dion Hinchcliffe, chief technology officer of consulting firm Sphere of Influence and author of the Enterprise Web 2.0 blog.
David Temkin, CTO of Laszlo Systems, countered that consumers are increasingly familiar with hosted applications.
"People get accustomed to this kind of delivery of applications. They expect the same in the workplace," Temkin said. "What's happening in the consumer space is making people comfortable with the trend."
Allowing employees to share information through blogs or mashups with outside Web services poses significant security challenges for corporate customers, speakers said.
Promoting ad hoc collaboration and multiple modes of communication can be beneficial, but employees need policies and IT administrators need tools to govern those policies, said John Crupi, CTO of JackBe, which makes AJAX tools.
"At Sun, where I used to work, we blogged and we had one rule: Don't be stupid," said Crupi. "I don't think there is one answer but there has to be a way to figure how to govern (communications) while encouraging it."
Corporations, in general, are also leery of working with Web start-ups. And many Web 2.0 business models are not fully proven.
"There's an element of this that feels like, frankly, Web 1.0--we've got this great idea, wouldn't it be wonderful to make money from it," said Temkin. "Using social networks as features on any applications, for example. That's great but how does it get monetized? It's a question not answered right now."
Still, many Web 2.0-style services are bound to make it into corporations, speakers said. That's because there is a great deal of innovation in the public-facing Web, and tools to help individuals build Web applications are getting more powerful.
Large vendors, such as SAP, Microsoft and IBM, are eyeing these technologies and collaboration techniques and will eventually build them into their enterprise products, according to analysts.
"The pendulum swings every few years between how much central control IT has," said Jeff Crigler, CEO of Voxant, a news syndication company.
"What's different now is that it used to be expensive and technically very challenged to do your own thing. Now the applications have gotten to the point where you think, 'If my 14-year-old son can do it, I can probably figure it out,'" he said.
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