Many traditional businesses that stand to benefit from the new business processes, communities and business models enabled by the Web 2.0 movement will miss out because they simply do not realise its long-term business potential, according to Gartner.


"For some it's simply a case of once bitten, twice shy," says Charles Abrams, research director at Gartner. "Massive investments during the first Internet revolution proved unprofitable for many enterprises and they are nervous of making the same mistakes again."

Abrams also points to the fact that many traditional enterprises view Web 2.0 as purely a technological phenomenon.

"What they fail to see is that unlike Web 1.0, success with Web 2.0 depends less on new and untested technology investments and more on reaping the power of new forms of business models, newly enabled online communities and collaborative processes.

"The risk with Web 2.0 has more to do with ignoring the easy-win business benefits that can be gained once the relevant applications and platforms are in place. This is not just relevant to information-intensive industries such as media, recruiting and IT, but for enterprises across the board."

The third reason Gartner cites for the unwillingness to fully embrace Web 2.0 is the perception that the transformational technologies associated with Web 2.0 (such as. Ajax or Really Simple Syndication) are primarily consumer-facing and therefore will fail to meet the stability, reliability and security requirements of corporate IT.

Such perceptions are naïve, believes Abrams, who stresses that no business is immune to the impact of Web 2.0.

"Certainly, the widespread impact of Web 2.0 in terms of entire industry transformation is not being touted as aggressively as that of Web 1.0 during the dotcom boom.  That is not to say, however, that traditional enterprises should not seriously consider the benefits that Web 2.0 can provide to their business in the long-term."

According to Gartner, there are seven core benefits of Web 2.0 for traditional enterprises that should not be overlooked:

1 – Core enterprise applications will become more effective through the incorporation of Web 2.0 technologies;

2 – Next-generation Web platforms can be highly efficient in overall procurement and sales strategies;

3 – Lessons from Web 2.0 community and social networking success stories can be leveraged within the enterprise for more efficient knowledge worker collaboration and overall employee satisfaction;

4 – Semantic tagging technologies can greatly increase the navigation of internal and external information overload and increase information-based product consumption and use;

5 – Web 2.0 communities can be used for new product feedback, shortening the product development time and targeting valuable marketing resources;

6 – Targeting bloggers and other influential Web users can help to control an organisation¹s image and influence publicity for the positive; and

7 – Making Web-based marketing the norm, rather than the exception, will help optimise overall marketing spend.

Says Abrams: "Web 2.0 communities and technologies, both those that are emphasised today, such as rich clients and social networking sites, and those that lurk around the corner that emphasise Web platforms and broad semantic communications, will have significant impact on a broad range of traditional enterprises. Positive business model change will result in unexpected ways, and enterprises must prepare for this transition."