Web 2.0 baffles businesses, says survey

Lack of know-how prevents cash-in

Senior executives see Web 2.0 as a tool to increase revenues but they could be held back by a lack of know-how within their firms, according to a new study.

A report, entitled Serious Business: Web 2.0 Goes Corporate, was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by enterprise search business Fast. The survey asked 406 senior executives for their views on Web 2.0 - a term applied to the perceived transition of the World Wide Web to a platform for online software applications populated by user generated content rather than just a collection of websites.

The vast majority - 79 per cent of respondents - said they saw potential in the likes of blogs and social networks to boost company revenues and reduce costs.

In spite of this desire to cash in, many businesses cited a lack of understanding of the technology as a barrier to using it. Over a quarter of respondents said their IT departments lacked the competence level to implement Web 2.0 applications effectively.

A third of executives questioned said a lack of resources to implement these new functions represented a major obstacle to their business. "It's a matter of freeing up or hiring new [programming] resources. There are too many projects to complete and not enough resources, I can't find enough people," Stephen Baker, chief executive of search at Reed Business, told the EIU.

While there may be barriers to embracing Web 2.0 the study found that businesses expect it to play a key role in how they communicate, both internally and externally.

The report found that 68 per cent of executives considered it to be the single biggest factor changing the way their company interacts with customers while 49 per cent said it would be the biggest factor affecting how employees interact with each other and the business.

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