Web 2.0 and Social Networking:
A Growing Area of Expertise for CABIT
Internet technologies have been evolving, and a new category of software referred to as “Web 2.0” has emerged to support collaboration between individuals. These applications have shifted their focus toward enabling users to develop their own content, integrate separate applications, and collaborate on a global level with others known and unknown.
There are significant business implications for adopting a Web 2.0 strategy – a strategy of developing stronger partnerships that enable new opportunities to collect and share data, using tools available from a wide range of software providers.
CABIT EXPERIENCES WITH WEB 2.0
The advisory board of the Center for Advancing Business through IT (CABIT) recommended that CABIT focus on Web 2.0 in the spring of 2007, when the concepts were just emerging. Since that time, CABIT faculty have engaged in a wide range of activities to participate in “real world” experiences with implementations and to support research efforts in the area. The following describes these initiatives:
Showcase Series: CABIT hosts monthly events for industry leaders in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Each session “showcases” one aspect of Web 2.0, featuring different speakers to spark discussion and share expertise. Since its inception, we have hosted sessions on the Overview of Web 2.0, the Value of Web 2.0, different technologies (such as mashups and unified communications) and best practices in social networking. In each case, approximately 15-20 IT and functional leaders attend the sessions, share their insights with the goal of solving their organization’s problems.
Symposium: Annually CABIT hosts a major, 1.5-day symposium that focuses on emerging issues. The 2008 Symposium was themed “Innovation through Collaboration,” and brought together many nationally-recognized leaders in social networking and Web 2.0 who focused on innovative opportunities. For example, Bart Steiner, founder and CEO of bulbstorm.com introduced his new on-line community for innovators at this event; additionally, we had panels on security, working with the millennial workforce, and even healthcare and Web 2.0.
Industry Sessions: CABIT has disseminated information on Web 2.0 by hosting meetings for industry groups (such as AZHIMSS and the Alliance of Technology and Women). These sessions have been hosted on the Tempe campus and have provided attendees with the opportunity to perform hands-on activities to become familiar with Web 2.0 features and to begin to discuss strategic initiatives.
Strategy Sessions: CABIT has worked with two organizations to guide them through their Social Networking strategic planning activities. In both cases, they held 1.5-2 day sessions that began with introducing Web 2.0 concepts to their leadership teams, and culminated in identifying a set of the projects with the highest value potential.
Implementation: CABIT worked with the American Accounting Association (AAA) as the project managers for their Social Networking implementations. We led a software selection process that evaluated the tradeoff between best-of-breed solutions and integrated Web 2.0 suites. After identifying 17 potential solutions, we worked with the AAA to select the platform for their social networking initiatives. After selection, we lead the team of developers who gathered user requirements, participated in system configuration, and we are now part of the on-going evaluation team.
Research Efforts: Expertise gained through these industry activities have also contributed to a growing body of research. We have presented papers at academic meetings and the Center director is currently a guest editor of the Journal of Electronic Commerce Research and Application’s special issue on Social Networking and Web 2.0. The Center’s goal is to continue this research, performing high-quality analysis that is published in premier journals.
As a result of these efforts, CABIT faculty have gained insights from industry experts, and they have hands on experience with the design, selection, and implementation of Social Networking solutions. As a result, they have gained a reputation as a Center that has more hands-on experience in this area than virtually any other. By working with two organizational partners on strategically critical projects, they have demonstrated their ability to successfully guide industry sessions, and they continue to expand their efforts by reaching out to additional firms and organizations to work on their emerging challenges