Web 2.0 inevitable in the enterprise, experts say

Web 2.0 will empower users to develop their own simple applications from the accumulation and filtration of data from multiple sources and use them to coordinate and collaborate on business tasks.

NEW YORK -- The Web 2.0 phenomenon - wikis, RSS feeds, social-networking platforms and mash-ups - soon will become a common mode of operation for enterprise IT, experts at the Interop New York 2007 conference said here this week.

These tools will empower users to develop their own simple applications from the accumulation and filtration of data from multiple sources and use them to coordinate and collaborate on business tasks. Development of these applications could be offloaded from the IT department, experts said, enabling that staff to focus on more ambitious projects for overall business operations vs. the needs of individual workgroups.

"There's never going to be enough IT people in the world to build all possible applications that people like," said Rene Bonvanie, senior vice president of marketing, partners and online services at Serena Software. "You can call it controlling your destiny or innovation without permission."

Bonvanie participated in a panel discussion of the topic at the conference. He said mash-ups in particular will be a "big phenomenon" because they let people easily combine data from different business applications, such as Salesforce.com and SAP, for customized presentation and manipulation.

"Users will have more control of their destiny," Bonvanie says. "IT will have a lot less heartaches and be viewed as heroes instead of the dogs they are today."

The ease with which users can collaborate on the accumulation and sharing of data regardless of source could reshape the database and search-engine industries as well, said Matt Eichner, vice president of strategic development at Endeca Technologies. "In 10 to 20 years, I don't think we will be talking about search," he said. "This will shift so dramatically that [database and search] won't be recognizable as such."

Such social-networking platforms as Facebook also have changed the whole concept of collaboration, said David Boloker, CTO of emerging Internet technologies at IBM. And the Bloomberg.com trading application, for example, is a mash-up already deployed for business purposes that makes the trader merely "a masher-up of information," he says.

Specifications for securing mash-ups, as well as accessing and collecting widgets on a single Web page, could come as soon as the first quarter of 2008, Boloker says. Enterprises might welcome the speed because adoption of Web 2.0 could force them to reevaluate their security policies and practices, he and other experts say.

"Facebook . . . is not going to find its way into the enterprise as is," Boloker says, speaking from a personal perspective and not IBM's. "It is probably one of the most insecure applications I've ever used. There are a ton of things you have to start thinking about" when writing and sending messages on your own or other users' pages.

Companies should establish strict guidelines for employees' use of social-networking platforms, RSS feeds, wikis and mash-ups, the panel participants said. Companies must consider the content and amount of information employees are sharing on easily accessible Web pages.

"It's the unknowing user that will hurt you if you're a highly regulated company," said Brian Kellner, vice president of products at Newsgator.

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