Digital Natives Will Drive Web 2.0 into Your Business

Analysts delve into how businesses might leverage blogs, wikis and other social networking tools.

LAS VEGAS—Digital natives—people who grew up using interactive Internet tools—will push the enterprise social software market to grow at a compound annual revenue growth of 41.7 percent through 2011, said Gartner analysts at Web Innovations here Sept. 19.

As these digital natives grow up, theyre moving into the work force, taking with them blogs, wikis, mashups, RSS feeds and other so-called Web 2.0 social networking tools that will enable them to collaborate more freely in an enterprise environment, said Gartner analyst Anthony Bradley.

"They bring with them a set of expectations of how they will interact and the tools theyll use to interact, and they can be woefully disappointed walking into organizations that dont have some of the Web 2.0 tools that theyre used to using for building relationships and getting things done," Bradley said.

Digital natives will thus usher in what Gartner calls the Enterprise 2.0, where users will use rich Internet applications, social software and a Web platform to execute tasks.

Social software includes social networking (Facebook-like profiles), social collaboration (JotSpot-like wikis and blogs) and social publishing (social tagging, think Digg) tools to interact socially and boost organizational effectiveness.


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While traditional Enterprise 1.0 tools were more rigid and siloed, Gartner analyst Tom Austin said Enterprise 2.0 technologies need to be "free form," or informal, messy and participatory, to make co-workers comfortable.

Austin cited Google, which uses links to tie things together and predicts what will be most valuable, therefore extracting value from complexity while making it easy for users.

"When we think about social structures, were not trying to control behaviors; were trying to facilitate emergent behaviors," Bradley said. "Its scary, but it works."

To wit, Austin said that instead of just throwing money at personal tools and software technologies that support social processes in-house, businesses should start with business goals and then pick technologies to support them.


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Businesses should especially pick social software that boosts the effectiveness of employees doing tasks that cant be automated, Austin said. These concepts include relating to each other, discovering threats and opportunities, innovating, teaming, leading, and learning.

The idea is to speed the processes of getting to know each other and establish points of common interest to facilitate communication.

Moreover, enterprises cant look at the Enterprise 2.0 evolution as a "build it and they will come" phenomenon of a wiki or some other collaboration tool. Workers, he said, wont naturally share information, sometimes due to compliance and security restraints, so businesses have to break down those barriers to sharing.

External social collaboration, where businesses use technology to interact with customers, partners and suppliers, is just as important, said Bradley. While in the past businesses would conduct focus groups, surveys and polls, social collaboration tools can more efficiently solicit feedback from larger swathes of participants.

Austin said that Gartner expects this market to blossom over the next four years, with investments expanding beyond blogs and wikis to include social software platforms, bookmarking, discussion forums, expertise location and RSS feeds.

Finally, Bradley said that while several specialty startups are currently pushing single solutions, such as Atlassian and Socialtext for enterprise wikis, and Movable Type and Wordpress for blogs, companies will create enterprise social networking suites that include multiple tools.


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