5 Web Applications to Watch in the Enterprise

For both employee interaction and marketing to customers, enterprises are drawing on the social networking and community capabilities of Web 2.0. Within the next few years, this trend should get even hotter, believes Gartner analyst Adam Sarner, who predicts that by 2010, over 60 percent of Fortune 1000 companies with Web sites will have some form of community functionality in the applications used by employees and customers. Here’s a handful that could make some noise in an already crowded market.

Microblogging tools are worth watching, notes Forrester Senior Analyst Jeremiah Owyang. “Tools like Yammer, ESME, and many others have started to appear, giving remote teams the ability to communicate somewhere between IM and emails,” he says.

At Yammer, the main question for users is “what are you working on?” As a company’s employees answer that question, a feed is created that funnels content to a central location, where colleagues can check the status of projects, ask questions, share links, and post news.

The tool can also act as a company directory, since every employee can create a profile. Plus, when they post project updates, those micro-blogs are linked to their profile, giving co-workers and the employee the ability to reference past discussions or work.

In true social networking fashion, anyone in a company can start a Yammer network and begin inviting colleagues. According to Yammer, privacy is maintained by limiting access to those with a valid company email address.

The site was founded by former executives of PayPal, eGroups, eBay, and Tribe, and has strong VC backing, so it’s likely to become more prominent in the future, Owyang posits. Plus, the basic service is free, so a company can try it out without much budget risk.