Microsoft SharePoint will "steamroll" Web 2.0 market, plus eight more predictions from Forrester

RSS feeds, mashups and social networking poised for big year in enterprise

Microsoft's SharePoint will steamroll the Web 2.0 market, despite some well-known flaws, Forrester says.

Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration products will "continue to steamroll the [enterprise Web 2.0] market" in 2008, despite taking heat from some observers about SharePoint's wiki, blog and social networking functionality, Forrester analysts say.

Continued success for Microsoft was one of nine predictions Forrester made for the enterprise Web 2.0 market in 2008 in a report that says the implementation of Web 2.0 software will be a priority for 24% of businesses over the next year.

SharePoint users have sometimes found basic Web 2.0 features difficult to use, and complain about a lack of advanced features commonly found in best-of-breed products, such as tools that let you build lightweight applications on top of a wiki, says Forrester analyst and report lead author Oliver Young.

These concerns won't limit adoption rates of SharePoint, though, he says.

"IT departments taking a leadership role in enterprise 2.0 deployments will look at SharePoint first," Young writes. "While the rest of the market – analysts included – will continue to gripe about SharePoint in 2008, Microsoft is clearly in an enviable position and can afford to wait for the market to come to it."

Microsoft has answered concerns about SharePoint's Web 2.0 functionality by releasing a social networking tool pack and partnering with vendors such as Socialtext and Atlassian to plug advanced functionality into SharePoint, Young says. IT shops have to pay more for that extra functionality provided through partnerships, he says.

Young says he expects major Web 2.0 upgrades in the next version of SharePoint, whenever that is released, but for now says Microsoft executives have given customers "the best solution that they can." (Learn more about collaboration products in our Collaboration Buyer's Guide.

Here are some more of Forrester's Web 2.0 predictions for 2008, based partly on a survey of enterprises and small businesses in North America and Europe (fellow industry watcher Gartner also issued predictions this week):

* Web 2.0 will make it big in the enterprise. "CIOs will concede that they cannot quell passionate employees' use of consumer-oriented or SaaS Web 2.0 tools and will mitigate risk by deploying enterprise-class tools in their stead," Young writes.

* RSS feeds will become substantially more popular. "In 2007, many firms discovered the value of blogs and wikis for knowledge workers," he writes. "However, for these tools to truly fulfill their potential, an RSS deployment becomes a must-have, otherwise new content goes unnoticed and most blogs and wikis will fall out of daily view of their users."

* Businesses will be more willing to buy social networking platforms. "Suite offerings that include social networking like Awareness Software, Jive Software and IBM's Lotus Connections offering stand to benefit greatly from the attention, but nearly any vendor that uses the term 'social networking' will get at least some consideration," Forrester states.

* Midtier vendors, rather than start-ups, will pour into the enterprise Web 2.0 market. Vendors from adjacent markets such as search and portal will unveil Web 2.0 offerings, and an increase in specialized services will fragment the market and intensify competition.

* Enterprises will have more choices of consultants and systems integrators. "Look for services vendors like Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte Development, and IBM Global Services to capture much of this nascent services market," Forrester writes.

* Trial deployments will spread through more of the enterprise. The vast majority of deployments in 2007 were limited to small groups and teams, and "as of yet very few have hit the point of pan-enterprise adoption," Forrester says.

* Mashups will get better. With innovations from IBM, Microsoft, Serena Software and others, "enterprise mashups will move from a few one-off pilots to true enterprise-class software in the coming 12 months," Forrester states.

* Don't expect major acquisitions and market exits. The Web 2.0 market will eventually undergo some serious consolidation because there won't be enough demand to keep every active vendor afloat, but "very few will cash out in 2008," Forrester predicts.

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