Businesses: Start Revving Your Enterprise 2.0 Engines

Enterprise 2.0 capabilities from new vendors are maturing, but Forrester says Microsoft will continue to dominate the market.

Businesses will leverage blogs, wikis, mashups and social networking tools to help make their employees' collaboration efforts more efficient and productive in 2008, according to a Forrester Research report released Jan. 28.

Though most IT departments have resisted Web 2.0 technologies because they believed them to be frivolous consumer tools, Forrester analysts expect half of the 42 percent of enterprises that say Web 2.0 is not on their priority list to add it by year's end. For these shops, the consumer-oriented Web 2.0 will evolve to the enterprise Web 2.0.

Forrester analyst G. Oliver Young said the tide is turning in part because the IT shops that test drove Web 2.0 tools for help desk ticket resolution and IT project management in 2007 will begin rolling out these tools more broadly to lines of business this year.

Moreover, there is the renegade IT factor to consider. Young said that because so many knowledge workers post their own blogs or use social networks such as Facebook to connect with people in the workplace, IT managers will deploy enterprise-ready tools to give their employees a more secure outlet for such collaboration.

This was a major theme at IBM's Lotusphere show the week of Jan. 21, with company officials telling attendees that knowledge workers are seeking out blogs, wikis and social networks. By offering corporate-sponsored tools, companies can mitigate security risks.

To date, acquisitions of Web or enterprise 2.0 technologies and vendors by businesses have been modest at best. Forrester expects this trend to continue.

Specifically, Young said power vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP will grow organically. However, he allowed that nouveau wildcards such as Google and could acquire Web 2.0 vendors in the SAAS (software as a service) market. That story could change three years out, when maturing vendors struggle to flourish amid the steep competition.

Coke and Pepsi. Crest and Colgate. It's hard to unseat an entrenched incumbent in any market and Young said Microsoft's SharePoint "will continue to steamroll the market."

He said that while challengers will be quick to denigrate the quality of SharePoint's wiki, blog and social networking functionality, Microsoft will still get a lot of traction with its collaboration suite in 2008. Another thing: Because so many knowledge workers already use SharePoint, it is likely smaller Web 2.0 vendors will look to partner with Microsoft.

So what enterprise Web 2.0 technologies will companies adopt in 2008? Forrester expects enterprise RSS feeds, mashups and social network tools will proliferate in 2008 after businesses tested them in 2007.

RSS deployment will be necessary to keep new content fresh, and the research firm expects 20 percent of enterprises to consider RSS by the end of the year. Forrester also said RSS technology strategists must pursue partnerships with as many blog and wiki vendors as possible to stay in the loop on qualified prospects.

Meanwhile, the research firm expects IBM, Microsoft and Serena Software to reap the benefit of mashup maturity in 2008. IBM, in fact, just unveiled its first commercial mashup product, Lotus Mashups, Jan. 21 at Lotusphere. However, there is still a lot of work to be done on standardizing mashups and widgets.

Finally, Forrester said analysts are taking a lot of calls on how to hook businesses up with social networking for the enterprise. Thomson is, by most accounts, ahead of the game after acquiring Contact Networks two weeks ago.

Forrester said social networking suites from Awareness Software, Jive Software and IBM's Lotus Connections (version 2.0 coming later this year) should reap the rewards of this hot trend.