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Vineet Chhatwal from The Consulting Office explains how tech leaders can make enterprises more efficient and streamlined through the use of Web 2.0 tech – or ignore it at their peril

Tags: BloggingInternetThe Consulting OfficeUnited Arab Emirates
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By  Vineet Chhatwal Published  February 14, 2010 Arabian Computer News Logo

For the uninitiated (trust me there are many in the region), term Web 2.0 simply refers to a myriad of tools and technologies that enable efficient collaboration through the use of internet. This may include use of blogs, wikis, podcasts and so on. One may ask, so what is new about this? Wasn't the internet meant to do this anyway? In my view, the significant differentiators from Web 1.x (rest in peace) are a whole range of innovations at various levels of technology - mobile networks, handheld devices, iPods and the like. This inexpensive, highly accessible and easy to use technology has opened up some very exciting possibilities which we already experience in our personal and professional lives.

But this is not the point of this feature. What intrigues or rather disturbs me is almost a complete lack of initiative from the CIOs to awaken their business colleagues to a whole new way of working by leveraging the Web 2.0 goodies. I may be a bit harsh here, but my recent discussions with a few business leaders surely reflect a general cynicism about the subject. However, once you present what Web 2.0 can mean for the business, the wave of cynicism turns to excitement very rapidly.

In simple terms, if there was ever a clear cut business case present for including Web 2.0 in a CIO's upcoming business plans, it is now. After all any CEO or board rejecting the possibilities of their organisation(s) to work more collaboratively and efficiently in the future with only a marginal investment, will do so at their own peril, especially in these times, when "synergy" and not "relentless growth" has become the path of choice for most organisations.

I have noticed that CIOs seem to have built some convenient myths around the subject. In the interest of brevity, I will address the three most fundamental ones.

Myth#1: Leveraging Web 2.0 means letting go of everything they have built over the past years. This is surely not the case in a majority of the cases. For instance, enabling employees to collaborate and communicate using internal blogs and Wikis doesn't require letting go of anything, just creativity and resourcefulness in the use of the current infrastructure.

Myth#2: Web 2.0 will not work in the hierarchy based Middle East working culture. Nothing could be farther from truth. The organisations in the ME need to communicate internally and externally too. Web 2.0 is an effective tool for sharing, what is shared remains an organisations prerogative. It can be controlled as effectively on a blog as on an e-mail.

Myth#3: Web 2.0 will put the users in stronger control of their requirements and hence diminish the stature of the CIO. Look at it this way; if the CIOs don't move quickly on this agenda, they may not have any role at all.  CIO needs to become the "evangelist" in the organisation for Web 2.0, and actively identify means of improving the "ways of doing business". This will require the CIO to work closely with his/her business counterparts. The CIO should take baby steps instead of one giant leap. Once his/her business colleagues see the immediate benefits, they will become active supporters.

Finally, like any other technology adoption, the bottleneck and also the driver for success is not the technology itself. It is the leadership of the organisation and the culture it wants to create. Unless the CIO is able to find a strong sponsor within the organisation for "effective collaboration" as a strategic theme for the organisation, the implementation of Web 2.0 projects and their adoption will not succeed.

Web 2.0 is not another passing fad, it is entrenched in our midst whether its possibilities make sense or not. Organisations including the UAE government are already awake to its potential. If you don't believe me, check out His Highness The Ruler of Dubai's website and Facebook page.

The views expressed are those of the author and not that of The Consulting Office.

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