As Web 2.0 technologies continue seeping into business systems, a new generation of corporate users is starting to gain access to the collaboration capabilities they are demanding from IT, according to attendees at the Office 2.0 conference in San Francisco this week. But before use of the tools spreads too far, they noted, companies must strike a balance between the Web 2.0 wants of users and the needs of corporate IT.
The conference, described as a collective experiment by its long list of sponsors, was organized in two months using the online productivity and collaboration tools that are the focus of the event, organizers said.
Jonathan Rochelle, product manager of Google’s spreadsheet product, predicted that real-time collaboration capabilities, as provided in the Google Docs & Spreadsheets tool set, will become a key part of the next generation of office tools. Employees are increasingly demanding tools that will let them collaborate online when creating documents, he noted.
“The consumer expectation [for Web 2.0 tools] is being brought to the workplace,” he said. “Work groups are taking the product in because they like working with it, and they are more productive.”
Indeed, within Google itself, workers are now derided when they attach documents to e-mail instead of using the online editing tool in Google Docs, he noted. The traditional route is now viewed as a drain on productivity, he added.
Richard McAniff, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office, also predicted that Web 2.0 tools will become interwoven into corporate life over the next few years. For example, combining a social networking tool like Facebook with productivity tools could “really change the way people do work,” he noted.
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