Assessing Gartner Support for Corporate Web 2.0 Planning
Recently Dennis Howlett, another Social Media Collective member, wrote about Gartner and its views on Web 2.0. Since I had an opportunity recently on behalf of a client to do some digging through Gartner’s reports and data and to talk with a number of Gartner’s analysts, I thought I’d share here someof my own observations.
While the topic of my client research was not specific to corporate adoption of Web 2.0 technologies or processes, I do have some initial impressions about how useful Gartner might be regarding support for development of corporate Web 2.0 implementation plans.
Market size estimates
Gartner’s willingness to make numeric estimates and predictions about adoption of specific technologies can be very useful when compared with the impressionistic or anecdotal research that is freely available on the web. I found Gartner reports such as domestic vs. global expenditures on installation, licenses, and vendor support for specific types of software tools and technologies to be more useful than the “hype cycle” reports. That is partly due to the quantitative nature of parts of my own client project, and partly because “hype cycle” reports can be difficult to interpret with respect to specific industries or business processes.
Enterprise content management
It’s hard to plan corporate adoption of web 2.0 technologies without considering their impact on content generation and content management. Gartner’s thinking on what is happening with enterprise content management software trends is sophisticated, including its discussion of structured vs. unstructured content. I found some of their analysts’ thinking on such topics to be impressive.
When this area of knowledge is put in the context of Gartner’s overall views of what’s happening with software, services, and outsourcing, Gartner can provide a very useful strategic framework for the corporate planner interested in topics such as enterprise content management (ECM), records management, and digital asset management (DAM).
Technology versus market and process
Gartner’s best analyses tend to be technology oriented. That is to be expected. My impression is that their services may not be as useful if the research topic is process- or market-specific and has not received consistent attention over the years.
This is not meant to be a criticism. Gartner’s bread and butter is helping people keep up with and plan for different technologies. When researching markets and business processes, however, the analyst may need more specialized or more market-specific resources, especially when it’s necessary to take into account the impacts on a company’s sales and marketing that specific vertical markets will have.
Web 2.0 is not just about technology
Following on from the previous comment, this is probably where I would need to do more digging before recommending Gartner (as opposed to more specialized consulting or research services) regarding Web 2.0 technologies.
Web 2.0 (and its cousin, Enterprise 2.0) is only partly about technology. In fact, some might argue that Web 2.0 adoption is much less dependent on technology than on underlying policies and practices regarding collaboration, information sharing, user generation of content, and governance. These are not topics that Gartner addresses in great detail even though how they are interpreted and implemented has profound implications for corporate Web 2.0 adoption.
Gartner research is very useful when planning a corporate technology implementation strategy, especially when that strategy emphasizes technology infrastructure and architecture. Gartner research may be less useful, however, if the strategy must take into account non-technology factors such as tolerance for risk, willingness to collaborate and/or share information, receptivity to innovation, and willingness to decentralize certain information management functions.
If the latter situations are the case — as they may very well be with “web 2.0” applications — a strategy development process that explicitly balances technology and business interests against corporate business strategy may be more appropriate. In addition, the analyst should also seek out more specialized or industry specific research firms that are permanently tied into the communities they are researching.
The following articles, also by Dennis D. McDonald, are related to the above:
- On Balance, Web 2.0 Is Bigger than Corporate I.T.
- How To Develop a Business-Aligned Social Media & Social Networking Strategy
- Seven Articles about Strategic Planning and Social Media
Copyright (c) 2007 by Dennis D. McDonald