CIOs use Web 2.0 to keep up with competition: study

A poll has revealed that "we need that too" is a catch-cry for adoption of wikis and other next-generation web technologies

Web 2.0 is more than just a passing fad for consumers — according to a recent survey of CIOs, adoption of technologies like wikis and RSS are making their way into businesses facing competitive pressures if they don’t embrace the emerging collaborative tools.

Forrester Research says 106 of 119 CIOs from companies with more than 500 employees that it surveyed are using at least one of these Web 2.0 technologies: blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, social networking and content tagging. CIOs said adoption is being driven by gains in worker efficiency and fear of competitive pressures.

Oliver Young, a Forrester analyst and author of the report, says the online survey, done late last year, proves that Web 2.0 tools aren’t just a consumer fad.

“They are really making their way into the enterprise,” he says. “For those people who were adopting the technology, it was really because it was helping them with some business process they were struggling with.”

However, he added that he was surprised by the number of CIOs who responded that their use of the tools was driven in part by the risk of losing market share unless they keep up with competitors’ use of the technology.

“It is that sort of urgency that they are getting left behind [that] is driving this in part,” Young says. “There is a lot of fear and uncertainty driving this adoption. I don’t think we have seen something like that since the last tech bubble and all those companies who said they had to get a website up and running and get online.”

Among the CIOs representing the largest companies — those with 5,000 or more employees — competitive pressure was cited 74% of the time as a driver for adopting Web 2.0, compared with 46% of the time for firms with less than 5,000 employees.

CIOs were most likely to view social networking and blogs as unnecessary, and said that RSS, wikis and tagging had relatively clear user benefits.

The study also found that many of the companies using Web 2.0 technologies view them as a worthy experiment, “but, if forced, would not divert focus away from fundamental initiatives like SOA migration, infrastructure consolidation and disaster recovery planning” to invest in Web 2.0.

In addition, Forrester’s research found that 61% of CIOs surveyed have a strong desire to purchase Web 2.0 tools as a suite and from a large, incumbent vendor.

Many companies interviewed as part of the survey noted a “snowball effect” with Web 2.0 tools, where once they began using one technology they very quickly saw the need for several others. However, most of the companies noted that integration — between individual Web 2.0 solutions and with their overall infrastructure — is a major concern, according to the report.

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