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Web 2.0 Apps: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

For all of the truly useful next-gen Web products, there are plenty that will expose your company to security threats. Here’s the lowdown.

John Edwards on July 11, 2007

Web 2.0 apps aren't just for kids anymore. A growing number of enterprises are discovering the power of next-generation Web tools to improve employee communication, enhance customer service and spur productivity.

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But not all Web 2.0 apps are created equal. For all of the truly useful next-gen Web products, there are a variety of apps that can burn away time, confuse users and even expose enterprises to security threats. Being able to spot the difference between 'must-have' and 'must-not apps is an important first step toward creating an enterprise that fully leverages Web 2.0.


Perhaps the most powerful Web 2.0 app is wiki technology. While Wikipedia has received its share of knocks over the past several months, enterprise wikis — controlled solely by in-house managers — provide a fast and efficient way of sharing information. Wikis are used by many major enterprises, including Disney, Nokia, Intuit, Lockheed Martin, IBM and even the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Electronic publishing software developer Quark uses DekiBox, a wiki appliance from San Diego-based MindTouch. Quark, located in Denver, relies on DekiBox to provide its employees with continuously updated information on the next release of its flagship QuarkXPress software.


Blogs are now so popular and widely used that it's easy to forget they really are a Web 2.0 technology. Blogs are useful for expressing management's position to employees on a variety of topics — sales, security, strategies and so on. Blogs can also be used to keep business partners and customers up to date on important issues.

Londonderry, N.H.-based yogurt and ice-cream maker Stonyfield Farm uses blogs as a part of its promotional strategy. The technology enables the company's healthy eating experts to share their wisdom with customers.

Google's Blogger is the most popular blogging tool, and one of the easiest to use. Blogs can either be hosted internally by Blogger, externally on a business's own domain or on the business's own server.

News Feeds

RSS and other news-feed tools are the Web 2.0 way to bring vital information from a variety of informed sources to employees, business partners and customers. Traction Software of Providence, R.I. offers Traction TeamPage, a Web 2.0 app that helps business harvest, organize and share business-critical knowledge. The product draws information from emails, the Web, Microsoft Office and many other applications into a single-page dynamic hypertext system. The software can be plugged into an existing server infrastructure or operate in standalone fashion on an intranet or extranet.

NHS Orkney, the smallest public health board in Scotland, is using news feeds to become the leading-edge health care organization in Scotland for internal and external communications. NHS Orkney programmer David Rendall, noting that he saved a tremendous amount of time using news feeds, decided to develop something that could save time for the entire 600-member organization. He installed TeamPage to provide a single, central point of reference for information and news, and lots of flexible ways to present and subscribe to information both from within and outside the organization.

Tag It

Another powerful information Web 2.0 technology is content tagging and social bookmarking, an app that lets employees quickly share important Web pages and documents. Connectbeam of Redwood City, Calif., is a leading player in this field, offering enterprises software that lets employees share bookmarks and tag articles, pages and documents with descriptive words.

Morristown, N.J.-based Honeywell is one of the companies using Connectbeam's tagging/bookmarking software. The technology helps Honeywell knowledge workers locate and manage information while easily networking with colleagues' knowledge, interests and skills in a secure, behind-the-firewall implementation.

Parting Thought

Motorola is perhaps the world's most aggressive adopter of Web 2.0 technologies. The company currently runs 4,400 blogs and 4,200 wiki pages. It also has 2,600 employees doing content tagging and social bookmarking. While not every company can hope to duplicate Motorola's Web 2.0 enthusiasm, perhaps it's time your organization got started.

The Good

  • Dekibox - 'Wiki-ize"'your enterprise's business knowledge.
  • Blogger - This Web 2.0 app will give key employees a voice they can use to reach colleagues and customers.
  • TeamPage - Help your team harvest, organize and share business-critical knowledge.
  • Connectbeam - Give your employees the ability to share key Web pages and documents.
The Bad
  • MySpace – This consumer-oriented social networking program lacks enterprise-level security protection and will burn away your employees' time. Try to direct users to business-oriented sites like LinkedIn or Facebook.
  • iTunes – Do you want your employees working or downloading music?
  • Second Life – Losing your employees in a virtual world is probably not the best idea.
  • YouTube – Maybe your employees will use this service to watch a software tutorial, but it's more likely they'll be gawking at a dog dancing with a penguin.

Related Articles

Firewalls, the Future and Web 2.0

Firewall Buyer’s Checklist

The Security Risks of Social Networks

Intrusion Prevention and Detection – Buyer’s Checklist


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