Gordon Lovell-Read, CIO of Siemens

“Suppliers tell me that Web 2.0, or social computing as I think of it, is the next dotcom – be there or be square. As a business leader, tasked with driving exceptional performance through the deployment of business processes via technology, I am both fascinated and fearful of the world that we have come to know as Web 2.0.

"I am both fascinated and fearful of the world that we have come to know as Web 2.0."

“It is not the technology that excites me or scares me to death. It is the consequences of its deployment. There is a lot of hype reminiscent of dotcom madness that has the CxO part of me running for the hills. The CIO part of me sees a world of possibilities but, just like the value of the Internet, they have to be couched in a business context.
“Looking through my business lenses, I characterise Web 2.0 as ‘two wars and a worry’. Specifically, the war for talent and for customers; the worry about brand destruction. I see, with horror, that BMW bought land on [online community game] Second Life. I have this awful feeling that they have done this because they are a B2C business and they think this is cool.
“This is the bit that has the CxO side of me petrified. The way I see it is this: People who are on Second Life usually pretend to be something they are not. If they were customers in real life, then they will buy something else in Second Life – otherwise they might as well have stuck with First Life (reality). Two, if they are not customers in real life, then why on earth would you ever want ‘wannabes’ to be ‘virtual customers?’.
“And three, it has been reported that Linden (the purveyor of Second Life) has a team of people that investigate ‘transactions’ on Second Life. For the uninitiated this is likely to be because the trade between Linden dollars (the currency of Second Life) and real US dollars would be a route for laundering money.”
How ‘cool’ would it be if it were ever proven that people were trading with the BMW brand on Second Life and it subsequently turned out that it was a route for laundering real drug money?

Ben Wishart, CIO of Whitbread Group

“It’s early days and there are many dimensions of social networking sites that can bring value to corporations and consumers. Because it’s early days there is much that is unknown and unpredictable, and therefore there is risk.
“There are two dimensions: one as a tool to communicate with consumers, and another for use within the company. In the first dimension, those businesses with the most to gain will be the early adopters, as they will calculate that the risks are viable to take.
“We at Whitbread will not be in the early adopter set, as there are too many other opportunities to pursue, and we are happy to let others take the lead.
“Within the company itself there is already some small demand for access from certain parts of the business, but we are not willing to have open access since it doesn’t fit the constraints of our security policy. We will track what happens in the market but at this stage are not considering opening access across the corporation.
“I am sure that over time a combination of experience and more comfort regarding the control of these environments will mean broadscale adoption.”

Jora Gill, VP information systems, Standard & Poor’s “Web 2.0 and social networking are disruptive. Was this not said (and in some workplaces is still said) with regards to the Internet? That is, they will be a force that you cannot stop and therefore should embrace. Ultimately, they will help organisations to have a closer and more personal relationship with their clients, which is a good thing.”

"Web 2.0 is a force that you cannot stop and therefore should embrace"

Ben Booth, CTO of Ipsos “The whole concept of Web 2.0 is overblown… it’s part of a continuum. As to the argument that we won’t attract Generation Y talent to whom it’s as natural as breathing, they will accept restrictions as part of their training to work in and meet the demands of a corporate business environment.”