Web 2.0 in the Enterprise

Web 2.0.  A term that is overused and often misunderstood.  And one that has been touted for years by consultants as the ‘next big thing’ coming to Enterprise IT.  I’ve read many articles and heard tons of people talking about bringing Web 2.0 to the enterprise.

But….I’ve seen very little success and it appears that McKinsey’s latest survey from June 2008 backs up my own experiences.

The survey, reported in a McKinsey article titled “Building the Web 2.0 Enterprise“, show’s an increase in the adoption of Web 2.0 in the Enterprise, but very few successes.

From the article:

Our findings also suggest that after an initial period of promise and trial, companies are coming to understand the difficulty of realizing some of Web 2.0’s benefits. Only 21 percent of the respondents say they are satisfied overall with Web 2.0 tools, while 22 percent voice clear dissatisfaction. Further, some disappointed companies have stopped using certain technologies altogether.

This is a pretty interesting result…and one that I’ve seen happen again and again.  Why are so many organizations failing at Web 2.0?  I think it has to do with poor technology strategy and a poor understanding of what value the available technologies can really bring to the company.

The McKinsey article continues (emphasis mine):

At many companies, Web 2.0 is now familiar, but the mix of tools and technologies companies use is changing. Blogs, RSS, wikis, and podcasts are becoming more common, perhaps because companies have a greater understanding of their value for business.

It is great to see some Web 2.0 tools showing up in the enterprise, but they are far from ubiquitous.  This result does show that when organizations do understand the value of a tool/technology, they can understand how to use it.

The one interesting tidbit from the survey was the dramatic rise of social networks by organizations.  Personally, I think this is due to Social Networking being ‘the cool thing’ right now and has more to do with the success of Facebook than organizations really understanding the value social media can bring.

Interesting articles and interesting times we live in.  I’m very interested in seeing McKinsey’s 2009 survey to see what’s changed. I expect social networking and social media to drop off a bit because most organizations don’t really know how to utilize these tools.

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12 responses to “Web 2.0 in the Enterprise”

  1. ExecutiveBrief Avatar

    Some more insights into Web 2.0 in this article: Web 2.0: What’s in It for You?

    ExecutiveBrief’s last blog post..Service Organizations Jump on the CMMI Bandwagon!

  2. Eric D. Brown Avatar
    Eric D. Brown

    Hi ExecutiveBrief: Thanks for the link…great stuff!

  3. Mike Schaffner Avatar


    Great post as always. It is kind of surprising that Web 2.o hasn’t caught on more. If you get creative I think there are many possible uses for it ( see Why Companies Need Web 2.0 and Using Widgets To Compete – Companies must use Web 2.0 technologies to stay ahead of rivals.

    I don’t think the enterprise really needs to know how Web 2.o can be used but rather we need to make them aware of what it can do. If we “sell” it in terms of being more competitive, communicating better and making it easier to do business with I think (or at least hope) the enterprise will see the benefit without needing to understand the “how”. We in IT have a sales job to do.

  4. Blog: Web 2.0 in the Enterprise: Web 2.0.  A term that is overused and often misunderstood.  And .. http://tinyurl.com/5hmgfc

  5. Eric D. Brown Avatar
    Eric D. Brown

    Hi Mike: Great links…thanks!

    Great point about web 2.0 and the enterprise. If we sell it correctly, the enterprise should pick it up well.

    The problem is that I’ve found many in IT don’t understand the power of web 2.0 and many are even scared of the technologies. I think we need to sell web 2.0 into the IT groups then sell it into the enterprise.

  6. […] me…shameless plug?) titled Selling Web 2.0 to IT (also on Forbes here) that expands on a previous post of mine and conversation that Mike & I […]

  7. Manish Jalan Avatar
    Manish Jalan

    Web 2.0 exemplars like Wikipedia, Delicious, Flickr, Amazon, … demonstrate great success stories. These convince us that Web 2.0 as a technology paradigm is superb. Hence we bring Web 2.0 to the enterprise. We are now faced with issues like low adoption, control and security. We see Web 2.0 providing value every where else. However we are not able to garner the same benefits when we implement it ourselves. Making web 2.0 work proves challenging.

    As Eric has rightly suggested, poor understanding of what value the available technologies can really bring to the company is the main reason for companies failing at Web 2.0.

    Web 2.0 tools like Blogs, wikis, social networks, RSS, widgets, RIA, Mashups, podcasts, collective intelligence, … are only as good as they are applied. At times we get carried away by the success stories and fail to understand Application in the right context is important.

    If we focus on the application, the problem at hand, rather than the tools we shall use, we will come up with solutions that will have greater acceptance. Web 2.0 tools can only act as means to an end. What is critical is identifying the end, the goal that we want to achieve. Web 2.0 has demonstrated plenty of tools in various areas; Be it user experience, collaboration, intelligence or integration. Business can definitely realte their problems with one of these areas. Once we have identified the nature of the problem, we can then choose the right tool that will help us garner the Web 2.0 benefits.

    Driving the hype away and practicing the true Web 2.0 principles will certainly prove beneficial. I have a couple of posts on similar discssion. One on Extracting Business Value from Web 2.0 and another on value of Web 2.0 during recession.