Web 2.0 goes to work

April 22, 2008, 2:41 PM UTC

On the eve of the latest and largest Internet gathering this year, O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 Conference and Expo, Forrester Research dropped a report that concludes that companies will spend $4.6 billion on Web2-related technologies by 2013. What that means for you, fellow office dweller, is that Forrester believes the world of wikis, widgets, blogs, mashups and social networks will increasingly find a way into your work life.

The emphasis won’t be entirely on internal collaboration, Forrester analyst G. Oliver Young writes, but will also offer “a fundamentally new way to connect with customers and prospects…By 2013 investment in customer-facing Web 2.0 technology will dwarf spending on internal collaboration software by nearly a billion dollars.”

In other words, you will interact with your customers and prospects the same way you do with friends on Facebook or maybe more likely with colleagues on LinkedIn, and with the same Web-based communication and tracking tools.

It makes sense that companies embrace the same easy-to use Web-based tools that we use increasingly in our social lives. Mark Benioff at Salesforce.com has been preaching that for some time now, both through AppExchange and his latest brainchild Force.com, his so-called platform-as-a-service offering. There are numerous other Web-based services including Jigsaw, BaseCamp, Yahoo’s Zimbra, Zoho, and many others that are already bring a Web2 flavor to the work world. What Forrester is arguing, however, is that for everyone who still thinks AJAX is a cleaner, and Twitter is what birds do, a lot of Web2.0 will come.

Does that mean you will be getting Twitter updates from your customers or your boss? If not actual Twitter updates, than perhaps a more corporate version that can offer the same immediacy and easy access to a list of key people. Much of the consumer Web2.0 stuff that makes it fun won’t make the leap, no doubt, but the ease of use and connectivity will.

Will it be a less exciting and dynamic Web-based world that Forrester anticipates? Clearly. What it might also be, however, is a more profitable one. And that is something that many of the Web2 startups that are piling into San Francisco at the moment will be very happy to hear.