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Web 2.0 won't pay the bills, but collaboration will

Wondering whether you're a Web 2.0 company or a collaboration company? The money is in the latter.

Sometimes it's all in how you ask the question. As Dan Farber at ZDNet reports, Forrester asked a wide range of enterprises how much they plan to spend on Web 2.0 technologies (plumbing), and then asked essentially the same question but focused on what that plumbing can create - social collaboration - and found that purchasing interest was much higher:

Forrester Research 2008

Collaboration is increasingly a big business. Just ask Microsoft which minted $1 billion on Sharepoint in 2007, making Sharepoint Microsoft's fastest-growing product (measured in terms of revenue) ever.

Web 2.0? That's just plumbing that enables other businesses. Many a VC got blindsided by this fact along the way as they invested in features rather than on solutions to real business problems, but they're wising up. So are entrepreneurs.

It's not just a question of Web 2.0 versus collaboration, though. Look at the other questions Forrester asked and the responses. Adopting open source-as-open source is not critically important for many people. Nor is SaaS-as-SaaS. These are tools. They are means to an end.

Ask IT executives whether they're planning to buy software and services that more closely align with customer interests instead of vendor interests, and at a much better price than proprietary and/or on-premise software, however, and the percentage will shoot up. Enterprises want to buy open-source and SaaS solutions. They're much less interested in buying open source and SaaS simply because they're open source and SaaS.