Web2.0, knowledge sharing and IT departments

10/17/2007 | Christian Kreutz

Here in Germany, Web2.0 is in everybody's mouth. Newspapers have been reporting about it lately, and some things are around the buzz word--blogs, wikis, social networks, wikipedia, facebook or youtube, get more and more attention. Whereas in the first wave most people wondered where and when will the next cool start-up spring up. The debate went on whether blogs are a threat to media or not. The wikipedia phenomenon brought finally the knowledge and collaboration dimension of web2.0 to the spotlight.

Ironically, in my opinion, the IT departments--responsible still--have often not taken the participative web as a top priority. And I wonder whether this is different elsewhere. By the way, a similar phenomenon is seen in the knowledge management arena. In relevant magazines, web2.0 and its potential for knowledge sharing and learning has hit the headlines this Summer. However, not many blogs are even around (Please notify me if you know some). One exception is Martin Röll, who wrote very early, albeit he stopped his blog, about knowledge sharing through blogs. Three other nice blogs are zungu.net, frogpond.de and Wissensmanagement2.0.

Going back to the topic, I wonder why many IT-specialists do not show a wider interest in web2.0 and share some enthusiasm. Here are some assumptions:

  • IT-experts know by own experience that web2.0 is just another approach, and doubt the hype around it.
  • IT-experts are bored of the triviality of this kind of software such as blogs and wikis.
  • IT-departments completely underestimate the effects for web2.0 software.
  • Web2.0 is seen secondary as technological and it is much more about culture, communication and commitment (3C)

"Like it or not, Web 2.0 is coming," says Lisa Hoover in the context of enterprise2.0, and this different tools will be used in organizations. Euan agrees by stating: The 100% guaranteed easiest way to do Enterprise 2.0? DO NOTHING. It strikes me to see how many people individually already use web2.0 tools such as blogs or wikis, or they arrange meetings with doodle, use their own desktop sharing and collaborate over google docs. And this all goes easily around the firewall because it is all browser-based. Nevertheless, some obstacles remain as Bev Trayner describes in her blog post Web2.0 is a long way from people at work.

I think it is important to grasp the potential of collaboration and to prove it can be a reduction of information overload and leverage new forms of collaboration. However, from a knowledge management perspective, it is also critical because of how can we share information, when it is distributed over the web. How can it be linked and searched from the intranet? Nevertheless, I am still puzzled about the reluctance towards web2.0 even though it can become a decisive and comparative advantage, being it internally for communication or externally to flourish cooperation.