Almost half of firms see more effective web applications in their consumer life than in their workplace, according to research conducted by Coleman Parkes on behalf of Citrix.

The research highlights how growing expectations of end users is driving business IT spending on web applications among 110 network managers, heads of web development, heads of IT and IT directors in the UK and Ireland questioned recently.

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of businesses said that improved user experience is a driver for adoption, while 47% of respondents agree they see more effective web applications in their consumer life than they are able to replicate within their business.

The research also revealed that there is a growing commitment to web 2.0 technology use. Over a third (39%) of those who are yet to run the technology, but are aware of it, expect to implement it within the next two years. In addition, 52% predict that half of all applications will be web 2.0-based within five years.

“It’s clear that end-users are bringing about an IT revolution within the enterprise,” said Klaus Oestermann, Citrix Application Networking Group vice-president and general manager. “This consumerisation of IT manifests itself as requests for flexible working or expectations for usability akin to their own lifestyle tools like Google maps or MySpace. As much as anything it’s a generation thing – companies must adapt to suit a new breed of internal and external customer that’s grown up with web 2.0.”

User demand wasn’t the only factor driving the popularity of web applications, other factors included: easier access to data (88%), speed of application usage (75%) and improved systems integration (79%).

Intranets (89%) and in-house applications (89%) were the most popular web applications currently in use, alongside extranets, procurement, customer relationship management (CRM) and Microsoft Share Point applications.

The research does sound one word of caution however, indicating a trend for web applications to be deployed before they are completely fit for purpose. Over a third (36%) of companies reported the time from implementation to bug free as a “a few months”.

Oestermann said this, in effect, will provide internal and external customers with applications that they can’t be sure are 100% fully functional. “As with any application infrastructure providing the best access experience to users is critical,” he said. “Half-hearted deployment jeopardises corporate data, security and productivity.”