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Web 2.0, E-Discovery

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2008-11-26 Print this article Print

In 2009, these technologies can provide companies with a competitive advantage in what is expected to be a very tough year on the bottom lines of IT budgets, IT management and IT vendors. However, even in an economic downturn those companies that invest, develop and capitalize on technologies that save money while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of business have an opportunity to grab significant market and mind share with new and existing customers.

7. Web 2.0

The evolution of the Web has been nothing short of amazing. Though each generation of tools creates new opportunities, the current and emerging array of Web 2.0 applications is completely revolutionizing the enterprise.

“We’re seeing the lines blur between devices and functionality,” says Michael Gartenberg of Mediabistro.com, a division of Jupitermedia in New York. “Web 2.0 is beginning to deliver on the promise of providing rich content in a seamless and ubiquitous way.”

The growing use of interactive maps, blogs, wikis, mashups, social bookmarking, enhanced search engines, RSS feeds and social networking is only the start. Web 2.0 tools are also making it easier to manage data, tasks and business processes.

Some organizations are now exploring Twitter- or Facebook-like applications that allow individuals to push information out to followers and create a simpler, organic communications structure. Others are using Web 2.0 tools to handle everything from institutional asset management to business intelligence and analytics.

The common thread, according to Gartenberg, is that organizations are turning to an increasingly Web-centric computing model. Google (Chrome browser), Apple (MobileMe) and Microsoft (LiveMesh) have all recognized this fact. “People are far more dependent on connectivity,” he says. “Rich Web-based applications change the dynamics of how and where they can work.”

Although conventional operating systems aren’t going to disappear anytime soon, Gartenberg says that

Web 2.0 is further enabling mobility and more seamless access to pertinent information. Adds Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media in Sebastopol, Calif., “We are seeing the Internet become a preferred platform for application development.”

8. Document Management and E-Discovery

Managing business documents has traditionally been a sore point for many organizations. Although file cabinets have been replaced by databases, being able to find relevant documents when and where they’re needed remains a huge challenge for business.

As Kyle McNabb, principal analyst and research director for Cambridge, Mass., Forrester Research, puts it: “It’s not as simple as switching on a document management system and having everything at your fingertips.” Indeed, organizations are recognizing that document management and e-discovery ripple into areas as diverse as IT storage, mobile devices and business processes.

Although vendors are adding more sophisticated capabilities to their applications—including the ability to track text messages, IMs and other types of unstructured data—the main challenge is figuring out how to develop systems that retain, manage, and retrieve documents and data quickly and seamlessly.

“Today, anything electronic is discoverable as part of litigation,” McNabb points out. “Developing rules and procedures is essential, and it is going to receive a lot more attention in the coming year.” Not surprisingly, the focus is rapidly moving beyond ERP and enterprise systems and onto the broader realm of all documents and communications.

At the same time, organizations are learning that electronic discovery (e-discovery) is a process, not a technology. “It [e-discovery] increasingly includes a whole range of tools and technologies that create a complete solution,” McNabb says.

Nevertheless, for both document management and e-discovery, new vendors are pouring into the market, with industry behemoths such as Oracle and Microsoft making their own forays. There’s some good news for enterprises looking to put solutions in place: “It is likely to be a buyer’s market in 2009,” McNabb concludes. “Vendors entering the market are introducing products and solutions at a much lower price point than they were in the past.”

Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.
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