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Web 2.0 - carry on, don't lose your job

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The IT industry is masterful at recycling old concepts under new names. Web 2.0's transition from the mass market to the enterprise is a case in point.

Every aspect of Web 2.0 has its historic parallel. Software as a service (SaaS) providers used to be called time-sharing bureaus. Wikis were content management systems and blogging used to be online publishing. Even social networking has its origins in Douglas Englebart's work on collaborative working at the Augmentation Research Center (ARC).

It is surprising then that Web 2.0's move to the enterprise has become the latest pantomime villain set to steal IT workers' jobs.

The argument runs that a combination of SaaS, wikis, blogging and mash up software will put application builders out of work as "business" people learn to build and manage their own applications. AJAX, not outsourcing, is the new enemy.

This year certainly saw established middleware and tools companies - IBM, BEA Systems, Oracle and Serena Software to name just four - chant the mantra of business people building their own applications in order to sound fashionable and sell more of their software.

However, there are mixed signals on the true progress of Web 2.0 in the enterprise market.

Web 2.0 - a kit bag of terms wrapping in Enterprise 2.0 and Office 2.0 - does appear to be finding its way into business according to reports here and here.

When not regaling us with stories of jobs lost to SaaS enterprise resource planning (ERP), though, InformationWeek highlights the challenges facing enterprise adoption of Web 2.0 once companies begin rolling them out and realizing their limitations.

Unfortunately for the Web 2.0 evangelists, it seems Web 2.0 applications and services must fit in with - not replace - companies' existing software, they must integrate with other new Web 2.0 software and services, they are in need of customization, and - oh - those social networking sites you've heard so much about seem to be fed more by vendors with a vested interest in running the service than an end user community actually donating code.

One thing is clear. If developers' jobs are under threat it is unlikely to be from a bagful of old technologies under a new name.®

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