This article describes research designed to measure the impact of the business value of wikis, blogs, podcasts, folksonomies, mashups, social networks, virtual worlds, crowdsourcing, and RSS filters—all Web 2.0 technologies. Properly deployed, they may well permit companies to cost-effectively increase their productivity and, ultimately, their competitive advantage; the research reported here includes results of interview, observation, and survey data-collection from select companies and industries primarily in the U.S. across six performance areas: knowledge management, rapid application development, customer relationship management, collaboration/communication, innovation, and training. The results include caution, skepticism, and a significant contribution to collaboration and communication. Wikis, blogs, and RSS filters have had the greatest impact, while virtual worlds have had virtually none. Security remains a concern, but we found that communication and collaboration are generally well served by Web 2.0 technologies.
My research posed the following questions to managers and executives:
* What good is Web 2.0 technology to your company?;
* What problems might Web 2.0 technology solve?;
* How can we use the technology to save or make money?; and
* What are the best ways to exploit the technology without complicating existing infrastructures and architectures?
Research objectives included:
* Understand which Web 2.0 tools and techniques are most likely to improve corporate productivity and management;
* Identify how Web 2.0 tools and techniques can be used to enhance corporate productivity and management; and
* Measure impact via collection of interview, direct observational, and survey data.
Questions addressed included:
* Can wikis, blogs, RSS filters, and folksonomies help companies improve their knowledge management?;
* Can wikis be used to build "corporate encyclopedias," training manuals, and other forms of documentation?;
* Can blogs be used to vet ideas about markets, customers, and strategies?;
* Can podcasts be used to document products?;
* Can folksonomies be used to organize structured and unstructured content?;
* Can RSS filters be used to create content streams to improve customer relationship management?;
* Can mashups be used for rapid application development?; and
* Can crowdsourcing be used to stimulate innovation?
Research methods included:
* Profile the range of Web 2.0 technologies available to corporations;
* Define "impact" across multiple dimensions of productivity;
* Collect data on the use of Web 2.0 technologies and the impact areas through interviews, direct observation, and surveys;
* Analyze the data to identify usage patterns and impact;
* Identify correlations from the survey data among technologies and impact areas; and
* Measure the relative impact of individual and groups of technologies on individual and groups of impact areas.