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Why traditional organizations fail to leverage Web 2.0 technologies

Raj Sheelvant
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Raj Sheelvant
Recent findings by CIO.com show that traditional organizations have difficulty in adapting Web 2.0 technologies. Though the term ‘Web 2.0’ is often abused, all the various technologies, products, and sites grouped together as ‘Web 2.0’ do have one thing in common: interactivity. With the success of YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, and Wikipedia business executives have begun taking advantage of online collaborative and interactive technologies.

Executives and CIOs seem enthusiastic about wikis, blogs, and social networking and have shown willingness to embrace this new development. Many organizations are jumping into the bandwagon of Web 2.0 by adapting the technology to their advantage. Now, ‘2.0’ is slapped on everything conventional: Terms like Enterprise 2.0 and Marketing 2.0 have become common place, and executives are pounding their chest as to how they have unshackled new ways of harnessing collaborative power within their organization. However, Web 2.0 technologies are radically different from the other IT applications. Traditional organizations are not structured to take advantage of these emerging technologies. There are three main reasons why Web 2.0 will have difficulty in penetrating the traditional corporate world.

Flow of ideas
In traditional organizations, ideas flow in a ‘unidirectional’ fashion. It’s the management that decides on a business strategy and motivates the employees to implement or work towards the realization of that strategy. Information flow is also ‘controlled’ by the management. Conventional corporate wisdom says that employees do not need to understand all the complexities of running the business. It’s revealed on a ‘need to know’ basis. By managing the flow of information, the management maintains its control.

Web 2.0 challenges the core assumptions about information in the corporation — who gets it, who owns it, and who gains power by ‘having’ it. And that is scaring the people in the organizations normally used to controlling information, according to Diann Daniel who elucidates the matter in her article ‘Is Enterprise Afraid of Web 2.0’ published in CIO.com. In the Web 2.0 world, ideas do not flow in any rigid preset course. The information ‘freely’ flows and that in turn generates relevant and big ideas. Any individual with a great idea can galvanize and create an ecosystem as well as momentum around that idea, attracting the right resources to execute and implement it. There is no need for control. This self-organizing, self-correcting and ever-growing nature does not need to be controlled.

Power structure

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