USA Today ran an interesting story this week analyzing how society defines flirtation and when something harmless can develop into more serious infidelity. As government decision makers continue to flirt with employing Web 2.0 technologies across their respective Agencies, my guess is that the reporter would have an equally hard time determining whether the relationship had developed into something more substantive.
A recently released survey from CDW Corporation takes a stab at tracking just how far government has come in deploying Web 2.0 and buying into its promises. The results indicate that while government still tracks behind large corporations in terms of believing Web 2.0 applications can significantly improve performance and processes, the gap is indeed closing.
The survey found that “more than 40 percent of corporate IT decision makers across government and corporate sectors have rolled out Web 2.0 tools in their companies, but more than half of them may be hesitant to adopt such applications because of concerns about proper usage and security.” Within the government – where security and usage considerations are heightened – it is not surprising that adoption remains slowed by these concerns.
30 percent of government survey respondents indicated that Web 2.0 was currently in use, compared to 50 percent of corporate respondents and two-thirds of businesses with 1,000 or more employees. According to the survey, the strongest headwinds remain in making the business case to government leadership. Only 22 percent of government respondents indicated that leadership was supportive of Web 2.0 initiatives, well behind the 58 percent enjoyed in large businesses.
Encouraging results for Web 2.0 champions within government is that the survey found that a majority of respondents (61%) felt Web 2.0 would be important in attracting and retaining the next generation of employees – an apparent indication within government that attracting top talent will depend on forward thinking on technology applications. An equally impressive (relative to the private sector) 45 percent also believe that Web 2.0 will improve performance.
Federal Computer Week’s overview of the recent 1105 Government Leadership Summit broke down the challenge even further: government leaders remain challenged by how to integrate the collaboration aspects of Web 2.0 with the security and usage requirements for Agencies. In other words, how can leaders take private sector best practices when it comes to disruptive technologies and make them work in the security-conscious government culture?
One factor that may push more Agencies forward when it comes to information sharing and collaboration is fear over the extent to which retiring baby boomers will exit Agencies and take their massive repository of knowledge with them. Whether or not the boomer retirement will spur calls for enhanced knowledge transfer through Web 2.0 collaboration technologies remain to be seen, but what is clear from the survey is that government leaders are slowly moving from flirtation with Web 2.0 to a more meaningful commitment.