Businesses Failing to Profit from Web 2.0
With web 2.0 apparently set to revolutionise the business world, new research has revealed that companies are not quite ready to take advantage of social media tools. Tim Hoang reports.
A fundamental lack of understanding and knowledge among senior business and IT managers is preventing UK businesses from adopting web 2.0 technology, according to new research.
The study conducted by Bournemouth University revealed that almost half (47.1 per cent) of UK senior managers do not understand the business benefits associated with web 2.0 technologies and almost a third (32.4 per cent) of IT managers admitting to a lack of web 2.0 understanding. Entitled "Web 2.0 - More than Social Networking", the research looks at how UK businesses are incorporating web 2.0 technology in their day-to-day operations.
According to IT services firm, Parity Group, the research shows that of those companies that do use social media technologies (around one third of UK businesses) do so, not to improve collaboration and communication, but merely to improve document management and search facilities.
"This research suggests that the majority of organisations are simply buying what they perceive to be the latest document management and search technologies, rather than adopting web 2.0 technology to achieve a new way of working. UK businesses run the risk of missing out on the less tangible but arguably more important benefits that web 2.0 can provide," said Rob Banathy, Client Relationship Manager, Parity Solutions.
A separate study by content security firm, Clearswift came to similar conclusions. The survey polled more than 300 HR decision makers in the UK and found that only one third (34 per cent) actively used web 2.0 technologies and one in five admitted being ‘unfamiliar’ with them.
Stephen Millard, VP strategy at Clearswift believes that businesses should see social networking sites as an opportunity to communicate with employees rather than a threat.
"Given that social networking sites have only really taken off in the past two years and the amount of Internet disciplinary incidents HR professionals have encountered, it’s little wonder that many companies perceive social networking sites as a threat. However, it is important for businesses to understand the vast benefits of secure Web 2.0 access. Consumers are increasingly turning to social networking on the Internet for all aspects of their daily life and as a result they expect to be able to interact with businesses through the same media," he said.
Worryingly, following our story about how social media sites had potentially contributed to 1,700 job losses, only 40 per cent of HR managers covered social networking sites in their companies’ Internet usage policy. Therefore, it is with very little surprise that less than half (44 per cent) of HR professionals worked with IT on developing policies. Millard has made calls for businesses to reconsider their Internet policies with the advent of this new trend.
"We are urging businesses and HR departments to take a sensible approach to the risks posed by social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace," Millard said. "In today’s competitive environment, businesses cannot simply lock down access to web 2.0 services: instead, they must harness sophisticated content security solutions to protect themselves while allowing the business to enjoy the benefits which these new technologies can provide."
Stephen Davies, prominent blogger and social media manager of webitpr, an online news distribution and monitoring company believes that companies are failing to embrace the web 2.0 world because they lack understanding about the technology.
"There are probably a number of factors why businesses are not adopting web 2.0 methods but I think fear of the unknown is probably a predominant one," he said.
However, Davies does believe that businesses are slowly beginning to realise the potential of incorporating web 2.0 technologies into their operations, though has warned businesses to do so only if there is a clear business benefit.
"However, I think some businesses are beginning to embrace the web 2.0 world and using the technology effectively. Some do it because they believe the way in which we do business is changing, whiles others do it to be trendy. Businesses should only be using web 2.0 tools if there is a legitimate reason to do so. If you want to show the world how much of a trendsetter you are then don’t bother."