Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Freaking out the CIO - Blogs, Wikis and Web 2.0 in the Enterprise

ZDNet's Dion Hinchcliffe recently posted a series of articles on Blogs, wikis, and Web 2.0 as the next application platform. It got me thinking with my CIO's hat on and I can see a lot of CIO's having panic attacks as they consider the ramifications.

Don't get me wrong - I am all in favor of adopting Enterprise Web 2.0 approaches. The benefits for an organization are enormous. However, if these initiatives are unleashed without some type of framing context then an organization is queuing up major problems for the future. Blogs and Wiki's have great potential for improving the flow of knowledge in an organization. Implemented without proper planning they also have the potential to undermine the corporate body of knowledge. Let me explain. I have had opportunity to work with some large organizations and have seen applications developed outside of the IT domain. Many of these applications were innovative and addressed significant problems for the organization. The problem was that they had challenges scaling to work across the enterprise and data contained in these applications would get out of sync with data held in enterprise applications. Forward thinking CIO's will need to rethink the services that they offer their customers. In order to discharge their responsibilities they will need to deliver the following services in a way that can easily be integrated with Enterprise Web 2.0 technologies: 1. Identity Management 2. Data Access 3. Business Rules 4. Network plumbing 5. Compute Power

1. Identity Management

Providing portable services that enable users and applications to be identified and access rights and roles to be determined.

2. Data Access

It will be critical that enterprise data is visible and accessible to authorized users and applications. This will help to avoid data duplication and maintain data integrity across the organization.

3. Business Rules

Enterprise Mashups will create new business processes but for them to succeed they have to have access to accurate and up-to-date business logic, be it discount structures, commission rates, signature authority levels or some other prescribed rules used by the organization. If access is not provided to this critical business logic the organization will see a breakdown in data consistency over time, or an increase in the application maintenance overhead.

4. Network Plumbing

It will be necessary to provide secure, highly available, network access to users. This access may be from inside or outside the corporate network. Security in this area will need to tie back to Identity Management and will need to enable connectivity with external business partners.

5. Compute Power

As users deploy Enterprise Mashups and utilize standard components the role of the IT function will be to provision and capacity manage these platforms to ensure the services are available to meet evolving business needs.

Embracing Enterprise Web 2.0 - the IT Challenge

The IT function will need to become both more focused, on core enterprise applications, data and business logic and more open than historically has been the case. IT has a responsibility to safeguard corporate data but it will have to be more open in allowing access to the information by authorized agents of the organization on a much more flexible basis.

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