Data-source issues hinder IT embrace of Web 2.0 tools

The biggest roadblocks to extending Web 2.0 technologies to corporate users are data overload and a lack of information accountability, according to some users and analysts. “Today, people are drowning in data, and RSS is another source to drown them,” said David Lifka, director of high-performance and innovative computing at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Corporate users need tools that can filter information from Web 2.0 sources like RSS feeds, wikis and blogs, flagging relevant data and blocking out the rest, Lifka said at Microsoft Corp.’s IT Pro Town Meeting in Redmond, Wash., last week. Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Wash., noted at the event that wider corporate use of such technologies has also been slowed by the lack of a system that can vouch for the integrity of Web 2.0 data. People should be able to determine the precise source of data and examine the credibility of the source, he said. Currently, “users don’t know if it’s the right data or interpreted correctly, or [whether] it is pulled from the right database,” he added. The U.S. Department of Energy now offers identity certificates, but the IT industry may not want to rely on the government for such programs, Lifka said. And at this point, he added, there are no widespread corporate efforts to set such standards and policies. Despite such issues, some IT organisations have found ways to safely take advantage of select Web 2.0 technologies. Mike Suding, IT director of Citrix Systems Inc.’s online division in Santa Barbara, Calif., said eTouch Systems Corp.’s SamePage enterprise wiki has improved collaboration in the unit’s engineering and sales departments. The wiki has so far required minimal IT intervention, Suding noted. “I can make [a user] an admin of a certain space or project, and they can add their own members and invite their own people to participate and post their own texts or graphics or attachments,” he said. To do the same task using the Citrix unit’s existing intranet, e-mail and collaboration systems would be more complicated, he said. “E-mail comes and goes, and we wanted a place to collect and build,” Suding said. “Web 2.0 is about employee collaboration and empowerment and self-service. That’s what we’re achieving with the wiki.” Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group in San Jose, said he expects that more businesses will embrace Web 2.0 technologies once the data issues are resolved. “It’s just a case of getting over the hurdles,” he said. “Clearly, the market is moving in this direction, but many things prevent it from moving very quickly.”

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