One of the other conversation threads at Web 2.0 in Australia was about the state of Enterprise 2.0 in Australia. Brad Howarth, a freelance business and technology journalist, who was a panelist at Web 2.0 in Australia commented that while researching an article recently, he had some difficultly finding local examples of Web 2.0 inside the firewall.
While grabbing some lunch I mentioned to Brad that I understood why he found it difficult, as I assured him they were there but they aren’t just being talked about – typically because they are still under the radar experiments (I’ve certainly called something a “pilot” in order to get an internal blog started with no questions asked) or a perhaps a deliberate attempt at a grass roots initiative
Reflecting on this issue a little further, within large Australian organisations at least, I would suggest that if you want to do something with Web 2.0 technology inside the firewall then it really helps to either be in the IT department or to have a friend who works there. I say this because I’ve yet to find an example where someone has implemented a Web 2.0 without either the help or approval of the IT department. In fact, even where a Web 2.0 tool – like a wiki – is running in classic grass roots fashion on a desktop PC under someone’s desk, its under the desk of someone in IT! So much for the Aussie she’ll be right, mate attitude, but then it was pointed out at Web 2.0 in Australia that the business community here really is quite risk adverse and conservative.
However, the tide may be turning on that front. Someone else commented at Web 2.0 in Australia about the 12-18 month time lag between what happens in the US and here in Australia. Right now I think Australia is only just entering that catch up phase. Evidence of that for me is that in the last few months I’ve had more serious conversations about Web 2.0, wikis, blogs and RSS with people working in organisations than I’ve had in the last two years!
Of course while this trend might raise the pressure to either implement or at least try to apply Web 2.0 internally, I suspect the IT department is still likely to play a role in Web 2.0 innovation. Particularly as the timing of this change in attitude also coincides with the release of a whole new suite of enterprise Web 2.0 inspired technologies, so there may be less of an reason to look at Web 2.0 solutions from the consumer world. It will interesting to see how this plays out.
For the moment the lesson is: If you aren’t in the IT department and want to get started with Enterprise Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 then you better find yourself a friendly geek first.