Some hard data is coming out this week on the adoption of Web 2.0 tools by companies. Yesterday, Forrester released some results from a December 2006 survey of 119 CIOs at mid-size and larger companies. It indicated that Web 2.0 is being broadly and rapidly brought into enterprises. Fully 89% of the CIOs said they had adopted at least one of six prominent Web 2.0 tools – blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, social networking, and content tagging – and a remarkable 35% said they were already using all six of the tools. Although Forrester didn’t break out adoption rates by tool, it did say that CIOs saw relatively high business value in RSS, wikis, and tagging and relatively low value in social networking and blogging.
Tomorrow, McKinsey will release the results of a broader survey of Web 2.0 adoption, and the results are quite different. In January 2007, McKinsey surveyed some 2,800 executives – not just CIOs – from around the world. It found strong interest in many Web 2.0 technologies but much less widespread adoption. McKinsey also looked at six tools. While it didn’t include tagging, it did include mashups; the other five were the same. It found that social networking was actually the most popular tool, with 19% of companies having invested in it, followed by podcasts (17%), blogs (16%), RSS (14%), wikis (13%), and mashups (4%). When you add in companies planning to invest in the tools, the percentages are as follows: social networking (37%), RSS (35%), podcasts (35%), wikis (33%), blogs (32%), and mashups (21%).
North American companies haven’t embraced Web 2.0 appreciably faster than companies in other countries, according to McKinsey. Although North American firms have been slightly more likely to invest in blogs and RSS, for instance, they’ve been slightly less likely to invest in social networks and wikis than their counterparts in some other regions. Perhaps the most surprising finding coming out of the McKinsey survey was that American companies are not poised to be the leaders in embracing Web 2.0 in coming years. If anything, they’re looking like laggards. Leading the way are Indian firms, 80% of which plan to increase their investments in Web 2.0 over the next three years, compared with 69% of Asia-Pacific firms, 65% of European firms, 64% of Chinese firms, 64% of North American firms, and 62% of Latin American firms.
In another sign of what the future holds for Web 2.0 in business, the Forrester survey found a clear preference among CIOs for buying a full suite of Web 2.0 tools from a large, established vendor. 74% of CIOs said they’d be more interested in investing in Web 2.0 if all the tools were offered as a suite, and 71% said they’d prefer the tools to be “offered by a major incumbent vendor like Microsoft or IBM [rather than] smaller specialist firms like Socialtext, NewsGator, MindTouch, and others.” Web 2.0 startups hoping to make inroads in the enterprise market, even among mid-sized firms, will continue to face big challenges, particularly as the larger vendors release their own suites of tools or incorporate them into existing products. You can bypass the CIO on a small scale, but it’s difficult to bypass the CIO when it comes time for a company to standardize on a particular product and vendor.
UPDATE: The McKinsey study is now available online.