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Microsoft IT Pro Townhall Event: Discussion Topic (Web 2.0 Technology)

by Harley Stagner on April 20, 2007

Like all good IT Professionals, we are a paranoid group who is skeptical of any new technology that opens up the doors for corporate data sharing, authorized or otherwise. I found it interesting that this conversation went into a direction of mistrust on web collaboration technologies. Instead of exploring new ways that end-users would be able to collaborate on data and create information from it, the conversation was led by an overall feeling that new web technologies will be disruptive and a hassle from a security perspective. I understand the security implications that are involved with this level of collaboration that may be out of corporate control. I share the security concerns as an IT professional myself. However, there are security concerns with any new technology. We should be focusing on providing the best compromise between security and usability (I know its an age old struggle), so that our end-users (customers) can use these web technologies for significant competitive advantage for their corporations. Two main points were abstracted from this particular panel discussion:

  • There is some concern about the security ramifications when moving forward with Web 2.0 (whatever that means) collaboration technologies.
  • It would be very useful to come up with some way to verify the reputation of an individual source of information by cross-referencing the reputation of the author or speaker with the particular topic of interest.

It seems to me then, based on the discussion about this topic, a rock-solid community (peer) based reputation system should be a top priority for those companies developing Web 2.0 collaboration technologies. After all collaboration technology sites like Wikipedia have been controversial because of the lack of credibility and authority some of the authors may have. Also, these companies should do all that they can to educate an already skeptical IT Pro audience to adopt these technologies for use. After all, like it or not, our job as IT Professionals is to provide technology services and advice to end-users who really don’t care about deployment details of particular technology. The end-users are going to demand this technology in the future as a younger crowd enters the workforce and we will have to make it work while keeping our data secure. The company that creates a secure, scalable, community-verified, web-based collaboration solution will be way ahead of the curve.

Overall, this was an interesting topic. The Microsoft representatives on the panel (Bill Veghte: VP- Windows Business Group and Chris Jones: VP- Windows Live Experience Program Management) seemed to be open to suggestions and Craig Barnes: CEO- Attensa Inc. provided some insight of his own.

My only criticism of this first panel discussion was that the definition of Web 2.0 was still not defined.  When asked of Chris Jones, “What does Web 2.0 mean?” it would have been interesting to hear at least what Web 2.0 meant to Microsoft.  Instead, we got an honest, but ultimately useless answer: “I don’t know.”

While not really a criticism, I would have liked the discussion to turn into excitement and suggestions for the rich collaboration that is possible with Web 2.0.  Paranoia is absolutely necessary in small doses, but the IT Community needs to get excited about the possibilities of new technology again.  Isn’t that why we do what we do anyway?

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