IT department a barrier to Web 2.0

There is an interesting article in Computerworld how Web 2.0 business champions are finding resistance to introducing Web 2.0 tools into their organisations. This ties in with a trend I have been noticing in my new job – after years of working in this industry I used to find that IT are the ones pushing the new technology and the business is resistant to change. The mantra for the IT sales rep has always been to “find a way to call on the business” rather than IT, and they have almost always failed up to now. But in this new job I haven’t met a single person in IT! It’s marketing execs and CEOs who want to talk to us!

So what’s changed? I see the following elements:

1) Web 2.0 is all about user experience. Both in the terms of highly usable sites in terms of design but also the human touch factor – blogs and wikis generate conversations with other people in a way that a Web 1.0 online banking site does not. This raises the level of interest amongst business people as it is something they can see and touch and think could improve their lives, in a way that integration or SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) does not.

2) IT people get very nervous about the level of business interest this generates. IT has always been their own domain where people have made good careers out of mastering the ‘dark art’ that business was always afraid of and simply wanted to ensure it didn’t cost too much. Now business people are coming in and getting more involved – IT are nervous about Web 2.0 requiring skills they don’t necessarily have, but also about business people championing projects without a full understanding of the IT implications. If IT is told to ‘start a blog for our customers’ which results in a security breach or non-compliant material being posted it will be IT who gets the blame, not business!

As always with these things it is usually a question of balance. This should be an opportunity for business and IT to work together, not for one faction to win over the other. Business should challenge IT to produce the productivity gains possible and undergo the cultural change required to adopt the ‘perpetual beta’ whilst maintaining support for critical systems and ensuring that the IT infrastructure, including security can cope with this new model, and making sure that the business understand the wider implications of what they are asking.

This is why at Trouvs we’re partnering with IT companies such as Repton and Cisco (and hopefully IBM soon) to understand how their IT infrastructure expertise can help ensure a Web 2.0 project is not let down by unforeseen IT issues. In fact – we’re having a seminar with Repton on September 27th (email me for details) and Cisco on October 31st. Come along to hear more!

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