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Small businesses apparently slow to adopt Web 2.0 philosophies

Since many IT solution providers who poke around in this blog are themselves small businesses, it will not be a major shocker to hear that a recent survey shows that smaller companies are latching onto the benefits of Web 2.0 less quickly than larger ones. Then, again, I’d bet that many of those same companies ARE using some aspect of Web 2.0 — which I count as blogs, software as a service, social networks, online collaboration services, and “presence” applications — without realizing it.

Here’s the data I’m referring to, courtesy of CDW, which polled 1,060 IT decision makers about Web 2.0 between March 27 and April 4 of this year.

  • Only 27 percent of small businesses have adopted some element of Web 2.0, compared with 67 percent of large enterprises and 53 percent of midsize companies.
  • Primary concerns getting in the way of adoption include how to police personal use, information security and decreased work productivity.
  • One bright spot: A significantly higher percentage of small businesses believed that Web 2.0 will be important when it comes to tracking the next generation of employees. While this still lags larger companies, at least there’s the potential for thinking to shift in the future.

For more information, you can visit this CDW site to get more of the data.

For perspective, a separate Forrester report about “technology populism” tracks the usage of various Web 2.0 tools in enterprise accounts. Here are some of those highlights.

  • About 30 percent of large companies use podcasting as a marketing technique, and another 16 percent are piloting or considering that technology.
  • Roughly 29 percent use blogs, and another 18 percent are piloting or considering.
  • Social networking, RSS feeds and wikis had about the same level of adoption.

The question remains, of course: How pertinent is Web 2.0 to the average small IT solution provider? Well, if your Web 2.0 world view stops at Facebook or Linked In and other social networks, I can see why you might be skeptical. But I challenge you to stretch your notion.

Consider this example: I just talked to a $1.6 million PBX consulting and services company called 24-by-7 Service that is using a Web 2.0 team collaboration tool to manage its customer service relationships across seven different time zones. The service has helped them win deals AND it has helped shrink billing cycles. Its monthly investment right now is $50 per project manager, but there are no licenses required for customers to view the application. The company’s founder, Charley Ellison, says the Clarizen service (which is the one his company uses) has proved much more useful than the spreadsheets his teams have typically used.

And that, dear readers, is a great example of why you should stretch your thinking about Web 2.0.

Heather Clancy is a high-tech journalist and strategic communications consultant with SWOT Management Group. She can be reached via e-mail at hclancy@swotmg.com.

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