InfoWorld's Ephraim Schwartz on the market impact of Lotus Quickr and Connections announcements, including quotes from Gartner's Dave Cearley:

All of this could potentially have an impact on network traffic, bandwidth, and storage, but that is not the largest issue IT faces, according to David Cearley, lead analyst at Gartner.

The main challenge for IT will be delivering a set of end-user computing capabilities that best enable Web 2.0 for the enterprise.

Up until now, IT in the main has been focused on delivering e-mail and Microsoft Word to the desktop. But new tools will now be needed to seed the environment with the ability to build community. Yes, end-users will create, maintain, and drive those communities forward, but according to Cearley, IT will need to deliver a new set of capabilities to make that happen.

For example, there are a lot of tools for blogs and wikis. Differentiating the functionalities each offers will be vital as enterprise demand for these tools proliferates.

"Simply giving someone wiki capability doesn't mean anything," Cearley says. Rather, IT will have to identify how employees will use the functionality, paying particular attention to the types of communities they will want to build. IT will then have to examine a range of social software to determine the best fit.

Choosing a solution is one thing; getting end-users up to speed is quite another. If you recall back in the '80s companies actually had end-user computing departments that worked with people to show them how to use word processors and how to create applications with spreadsheets. Over time, the need for that kind of end-user support diminished.

Giving end-users the ability to create applications and mashups will likely mean a resurgence in the importance of having an adequate end-user support plan in place.
This ties in well to a discussion raised at a customer call earlier this week.  A customer asked me, how is all this different than the last time we tried all this, with "knowledge management"?  

My answer was on two levels: Technical and cultural.

On the technical side, I think the biggest difference is that the technology is self-service.  In "Knowledge Management", systems or administrators built taxonomies.  In web 2.0, users build tag clouds.  In KM, users had predefined views.  In web 2.0, I have favorites and profiles.  Today, if I want to blog, I start a blog -- full stop.

On the cultural side, I think that the web 2.0 consumer tools have taught early adopters what the value is of information sharing.  Look at LinkedIn.  A person's network, access to "power", and connections used to be something that was guarded closely, cultivated carefully, and accessed sparingly.  Now, it's out there for everyone to see.  I don't have to be in the "inner circle" to find my way to useful people.  Blogging, myspace/facebook, even the voting/recommendations buttons that mainstream news sites have added, all contribute to a user empowerment that absolutely didn't exist in the knowledge management era.

Look in our own community.  Those who are "Lotus bloggers" have demonstrated their expertise on the product and solutions.  That has lead to many of them/you being asked to speak at conferences, consulting engagements, and even friendships.  In the past, that knowledge was guarded and used to differentiate.  Now it is shared and used to differentiate.  The culture of sharing has always been there around Notes (i.e. LNOTES-L, Notes.net, etc.), but now it's exploded.

I think we're aligned for success in bringing social networking and web 2.0 technologies into the mainstream, fast, friendly, and useful.  We're on the rocket ship ride now, with more to come in the next few months.

Link: InfoWorld: IBM lends gravitas to Enterprise 2.0 trend > (Thanks, Ed)

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