Web 2.0: New technologies greet the enterprise

RSS, wikis, social nets, and search weave a more collaborative Web

However you define Web 2.0, most agree that it’s woven from a fabric of technologies designed to ease collaboration and break down information silos, whether they’re individual Web sites, portals, or business intelligence systems. Enterprise RSS gained significant ground in 2006 as a better way to aggregate and publish this information; social networking also made significant inroads within organizations. A third swatch, represented by enterprise search, transformed the way all this content is organized and categorized.

You’d be hard pressed to find a Web-enabled application that doesn’t churn out an RSS feed today. But this leads to many workers consuming unnecessary network bandwidth by subscribing to the same feed -- or missing others that enterprises deem important. Enterprise RSS servers from Attensa, NewsGator, and KnowNow solve this problem by centralizing feeds on one secure server while reigning in internal RSS feeds. Then there’s the social network effect, as employees can rate and comment on feeds or share them within workgroups.

Six Apart scaled up blogging with Movable Type Enterprise. Yet the real action this year happened in socializing business interactions. By homogenizing wikis and blogs, applications such as Atlassian Confluence, Near-Time, Socialtext, and Traction TeamPage let workers organize and share knowledge and form interactive discussions. JotSpot, newly acquired by Google, provides plug-in applications nicely aligned with another Web 2.0 characteristic, rich Internet applications. Google wouldn’t say how it might integrate JotSpot technology with, say, Google Docs and Spreadsheets, but the combination would make good sense.

For a clearer picture where these extensible platforms are headed, look at Social Platform Enterprise 1.2. It’s a great way for businesses quickly to build vigorous social networks that scale up to tens of millions of users. Standard wiki and message functions abound, as do unusual community-building functions such as ratings and reward points. Further, traditional enterprise portal vendors are beginning to tap Web 2.0 technologies. Both BEA Systems and Microsoft have incorporated wikis into their platforms, and BEA is also implementing del.icio.us-style user tagging.

Enterprise search diverged in two directions. Now-established Vivísimo Velocity and other players, including ISYS, exalead, and Siderean, continue to pressure Google. Because of its excellent categorization as well as its federation of enterprise and public knowledgebases, we single out Velocity. Yet as ISYS and exalead prove, enterprises are also looking for less expensive, easy-to-install search solutions -- a request IBM satisfied with the no-cost OmniFind Yahoo! Edition. We’re eager to see how Google reacts to this challenge in 2007. If nothing else, expect even better categorization in search products, which will continue replacing the static navigation of traditional Web sites.