Web 2.0 confusion hindering firms

Web 2.0 confusion hindering firms

Business benefits are misunderstood by many IT and business leaders, according to new research

A widespread lack of understanding about the business benefits of Web 2.0 technology and ways of working with it is hindering its spread within the enterprise and leading to many firms blocking access to such applications outright, according to two new surveys released today.

IT services firm Parity revealed that nearly half of senior managers do not understand the benefits of promoting Web 2.0 in the workplace and a third of IT managers said they lack understanding of this new area of technology.

Of those who did find benefit in using Web 2.0, over half said they were able to work more efficiently, or could work together across different locations more easily, the report found.

"There is confusion about what Web 2.0 is among business decision makers and IT," argued Parity client relationship manager Rob Banathy. "There seems to be a difference between the business drivers used to support the business cases for these solutions and the benefits that are reported when they are implemented."

Banathy encouraged IT managers to proactively educate business decision makers about how these technologies can support newer, more efficient and productive ways of working. "They should be looking to hook up with a business sponsor and pitch the technology and get change working," he added.

Meanwhile, HR staff are similarly uninformed about Web 2.0, according to new research by security firm Clearswift. It found one in five HR decision makers are unfamiliar with Web 2.0 phenomena like social networking sites, and 65 percent said they deny employee access to these sites. Half of those surveyed said they have had to discipline staff for time wasting on the internet.

"Employees coming into business organisations expect to be able to use these technologies, and increasingly they are being used by firms to communicate with their employees and customers," said Clearswift's Stephen Millard. "But there are risks [such as] the impact on productivity and the security threat – very few have policies in place or technology to enforce these policies."

Penny Davis, head of HR at T-Mobile, said she was surprised that so many HR professionals were unaware of Web 2.0 technologies, as things like Facebook groups can be used reach out to new starters in "a creative way that enhances your reputation as an employer".

Davis added that rather than impose blanket bans on such sites, organisations could either limit usage according to individuals' roles, or set up cyber cafes where staff can have access during their lunch break.

John Court, an IT manager for law firm SJ Berwin LLP, said it is increasingly difficult for his IT team to distinguish between personal and business usage and said end-user education and awareness raising about the impact of using such sites is key.