Firms harness Web 2.0 to improve productivity

Deployment of consumer technologies and applications into the work environment is surfacing in the business community. We are seeing this as more IT executives begin to realize the importance of creating a user-driven IT model that encourages collaboration and communications among workers to maximize productivity. This concurs with Yankee Group's vision of the 'Anywhere Enterprise', which will challenge the role of traditional IT as the enterprise continues to become a collaboration-driven workforce.

The most interesting finding in the Yankee Group 2007 Asia-Pacific Mobility and Business Applications survey is the rapid consumerization of the enterprise within corporations. Covering firms with 500 or more employees that operate in China, Hong Kong, India and South Korea, the poll was designed to understand how large firms use various business applications and determine usage trends for wireless-enabled applications.

Survey results show that more than 40% of enterprises see the use of consumer technology in the work environment as inevitable and that IT would limit only those applications that pose the highest risk to the IT/business environment.  Another 27% of respondents are bullish about the positive impacts of consumer technologies as they integrate into daily business operations. 
At the macro level, Korean enterprises appeared to be the prime motivator for promoting consumer technology. Close to 40% of Korean respondents said they would opt for integrating consumer technology into corporate business. For service providers, a key takeaway from these results is that the isolation of consumer technology is not necessarily an effective way to increase the productivity gain of internal staff.  More important is the ability to focus on the best user experience by having this personalized through a consistent delivery mechanism within the corporate workflow.

Relevant to this is Web 2.0, which has many concepts associated with it including IM, blogs, wikis, social bookmarks and RSS feeds.  Most of these concepts are based on a user-centric approach to facilitate collaboration and communications. Many enterprises find it helpful to bring these elements into the workplace to increase productivity.

The survey also found that all companies polled have deployed some form of Web 2.0 technologies - the top three being IM (64%), unified communications (53%) and internal blogs (52%).  Apparently, web-enabled collaborative tools that can improve productivity are of great interest among an increasingly mobile workforce.  With that in mind, enterprises are likely to further invest in collaborative tools like unified communications in the next few years. 

Aside from enhancing the internal experience, survey results indicated that enterprises are equally interested in boosting customer satisfaction.  About a third of respondents said they would evaluate Web 2.0 applications like RSS feeds for future use.  Imagine if customers can receive the right content in a format they can understand and use in their current location and context. This is surely a compelling reason to stay loyal.

From consumers to customers

There is no doubt that Web 2.0 is more than a consumer phenomenon. Given the use of mobile phone for web access has become commonplace in a growing number of Asian economies, it is easy to envision the use of mobile devices in various Web 2.0 applications in the near future. The evolution of enterprise mobility will require service providers to tread carefully in navigating user-specific requirements and expectations.  Indeed, industry leaders such as IBM, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo are now experimenting different Web 2.0 concepts for their customers.

 

Like other consumer technologies that are having an impact on enterprises, Web 2.0 not only has a significant impact on business computing but - more importantly - it will play a role in driving the next wave of enterprise consumerization by enabling faster and richer content.  As information is openly accessible to all users, including employees, partners and customers, a shift in business mindsets to deepen connections between users is needed. To be successful, function-specific user education is imperative.

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