Web 2.0: Poised for enterprise role
Still trying to earn corporate acceptance are Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, RSS feeds and wikis, which will take on an increasingly important enterprise role in 2008.
"If I look at the Web 2.0 space in the enterprise, I see a lot of experimentation right now, and a lot of frustration," says Forrester analyst Oliver Young. "Are enterprises ready to deliver on the value the businesses are asking for? Probably not yet. But I think in 2008 they're going to get much closer."
Wikis will probably have the biggest positive impact, says Paul Gillin, a writer and commentator on the tech industry and former executive editor of Network World sister publication Computerworld.
"If you have a large number of people who have to share information, e-mail is a horrible way to do that," Gillin says.
With a wiki, you can set up a blank page workspace, and leave it up to users to decide who's involved, what the tasks are and how the work will be organised, Young says. It's a lot more efficient than overflowing e-mail in-boxes with mass e-mails.
But Web 2.0 technologies such as wikis and RSS feeds also have their challenges.
"The challenges are getting people to use it," Gillin says. In addition, it can be hard to get funding for Web 2.0 projects, because some management teams aren't convinced the new tools deliver real business value, Young says.
Security is also a potential problem. "Web 2.0 can make it easier for employees to share data, and in doing so make it easier for employees to abuse data," Young says. "The best way companies are starting to approach this is through strong permissioning, compliance and archiving," as well as education to make sure employees know what constitutes acceptable sharing of data.
Life in the trenches
Amid the storm of new technologies and security challenges, IT staff will have to make due with budgets that aren't growing as much as they did in 2007.
Worldwide spending growth will be moderate, at 5.5% to 6% in 2008, down from 6.9% growth in 2007, IDC says
Economic uncertainties will take a toll in the United States, in particular, where IT spending growth is expected to drop from 6.6% this year to 3% to 4% in 2008, IDC reports.
On the hiring front, the most sought-after candidates will be the IT hybrids -- which can be loosely defined as professionals who have as much business acumen as technical know-how.
"Hybrid jobs require IT professionals to sit down at a business meeting and be able to predict and deliver the technology the business will need to meet its goals and go about implementing it," says David Foote, CEO and chief research officer at Foote Partners. "The premise of IT/business hybrid roles started at the CIO level. In 2008, you will see it as far down as the $60,000-per-year operations people."