CIOs can't get enough of Web 2.0, but they've just about had it with small, unproven vendors, according to new research. And despite all the buzz, justifying Web 2.0's value remains an obstacle for technology managers.
Forrester Research in December surveyed 119 CIOs at companies with 500-plus employees, asking how they've adopted Web 2.0 technologiesspecifically, blogs, content tagging, podcasts, Really Simple Syndication (RSS), social networking and wikis.
Overall, about three in four CIOs say they'd prefer Web 2.0 tools rolled up in a suite from a single vendor. That stat shot up to 98 percent for CIOs already using all six of the technologies. Respondents also say they favored that suite coming from a "major incumbent vendor," such as IBM or Microsoft.
Why shun offerings from Web 2.0 buzz companies such as Socialtext Inc. and NewsGator Technologies for the behemoths of the software world? Integration is a primary driver, says Forrester analyst G. Oliver Young, but so is stability: In the eyes of prospective buyers, some smaller companies don't have the experience, or the finances, to assure long-term viability. The CIOs' motivations for using Web 2.0 technologies are telling as well. Improving efficiency is the top driver, at 74 percent, according to Forrester. The secondbut most surprising to Youngis competitive pressures; 64 percent of CIOs say they're opting for Web 2.0 technologies to keep up with market rivals.
The biggest challenge for CIOs today, according to Young, is difficulty in measuring return on investment. Part of the problem is that most companies using Web 2.0 technologies are still early adopters who are merely "experimenting," he says. "It's rare that you see a company that's made a real, gut-wrenching investment," at least compared with investments in major enterprise applications.
The next wave of adopters won't be so experimental, he says; with tightened budgets and increased expectations, CIOs will be looking for tools that can prove their worth. And they'll be looking to vendors to advise them on how to calculate that value. "Right now, they say, 'We know it's helping us. We see qualitatively that our employees are happier and people are using them,'" Young says of the surveyed CIOs. "But they don't really have any good metrics for showing specifically how it's helping them."