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Enterprise IT organizations, until recently, dismissed Web 2.0 tools like wikis, Really Simple Syndication (RSS), blogs and mashups as playthings for consumers. However, many have changed course this past year, as more and more knowledge workers have adopted such tools as flexible, location-independent, cost-effective means of collaborating, sharing and accessing information within and outside the company.
CIOs, in turn, have been forced to take Web 2.0 seriously, if only to ensure that their organizations use such tools in a safe, secure and reliable fashion, notes Ray Wang, a principal analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc.
A Forrester report, "Top Enterprise Web 2.0 Predictions for 2008," predicts that by year's end, deployment of Web 2.0 tools will be a top priority for the majority of enterprises. For example, RSS "publish and subscribe" architectures grew in 2007 as a means for companies to make internal content, such as blog postings and customer relationship management data, easily accessible to internal employees and key partner organizations. While only 9% of enterprise IT respondents to a recent Forrester survey expected to consider using RSS this year, the consultancy predicts that number will be close to 20% by year's end.
Forward-thinking CIOs are evaluating the potential benefits of Web 2.0 tools for their own IT organizations -- and even for themselves, as a means of sharing information and best practices for key IT projects.
André Mendes is one such CIO. His organization, Special Olympics, hosts sporting events worldwide for more than 2.5 million athletes with special needs. It has 250 paid staff members and more than 100,000 volunteers. About a year ago, Mendes was approached by Michael Grove, founder of CollabWorks Inc. in Redwood City, Calif. "His basic premise was that CIOs very often solve the same problems over and over again in our own little silos," Mendes said. "We end up paying consultants for knowledge which, once identified and catalogued, can be shared, saving everyone money and aggravation."
About two months ago, he signed Special Olympics up as a full member of CollabWorks' Enterprise Network. The first project for which he is seeing the collaborative help of other CIO members: updating the organization's security infrastructure. CollabWorks provides a Web-based collaborative infrastructure that enables members to share intellectual property and actively collaborate on specific projects. A member portal, built by Central Desktop Inc., provides discussion boards, document sharing capabilities, collaborative workspaces and a knowledge base. Mendes said he sees great potential value in this concept. "Through the portal, you can interact and share information with people who are recognized for innovation, leadership and understanding," he said. "You're leveraging economies of scale over a body of CIOs. At the end of the day, would I rather pay $100,000 to a consultant, or $5,000 to get access to a huge body of knowledge?"