IT Pros Called Upon to Leverage Web 2.0

An anticipated enterprise push into social technologies this year will create career-building opportunities for IT professionals.

Enterprise demand for IT professionals capable of working in the Web 2.0 world is growing as more and more firms call upon this technology to address problems facing their information systems.

To date, most IT departments have resisted Web 2.0 tools, viewing them as consumer grade and of secondary interest to their other investments. But this may be changing in 2008.

According to research from Robert Half Technology, an IT recruiting firm, CIOs anticipate a 15 percent increase in the need for IT workers with Web 2.0 application development skills in 2008.

In periods of slow economic growth, IT organizations are expected to find places to save money, and one way is to add more functionality to existing technologies. Web 2.0 technologies, such as enterprise RSS and social networking tools, are expected to get extra attention because of the business value they deliver.

"IT is obviously trying to become more relevant to business; to be seen not just as a cost center but an innovation center. Web 2.0 technologies can be valuable to business when implemented because they can be done very easily and at a low cost. Personally, I think it is a great way for IT to show leadership to business," Forrester analyst Oliver Young told eWEEK.

The first place Web 2.0 is likely to make enterprise inroads are in places where information worker problems remain unresolved-help desk ticket resolution, IT project management, documentation tracking and email.

"In almost every case, the medium these technologies are replacing is email or anther inefficient communication technology. In the case of a wiki, you'd previously be emailing people documents and spreadsheets, and they quickly become out of date and clog up the inbox," said Young.

The major improvement will be to cut down on email, rendering the email which remains more effective, relevant and efficient-a feat that would turn the IT department into business heroes.

Other areas that have piqued enterprise interest include RSS deployment, as companies have discovered the value of blogs and wikis for knowledge workers. Companies will need people to act as RSS technology strategists who can pursue partnerships with the right Web 2.0 vendors.

Forrester also expects businesses to look for ways to embrace social networking after seeing its success in the consumer space throughout 2007. Demand for workers who are familiar with suite offerings, such as Awareness Software, Jive Software and IBM's Lotus Connections, is particularly high.

One of the biggest technologies to watch in the Web 2.0 area will be Microsoft's SharePoint, which Forrester expects to be in the enviable position of being able to afford to wait for the market to come to it.

"While many argue about the quality of SharePoint's wiki, blog and social networking functionality, the number of IT shops that look to Microsoft for Enterprise 2.0 technology speaks for itself," explained Young.

The SharePoint draw is that Microsoft is essentially giving away lightweight wiki and RSS technologies for free, and unquestionable business value from a trusted brand. The opportunity will be for IT professionals to leverage the partnership ecosystem Microsoft is creating around SharePoint to extract further uses for the system.