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When will Web 2.0 translate well for the IT world?

Big technology establishment companies like Cisco and Oracle believe it will happen soon and are retooling their products to appeal to the Web 2.0 generation. Trend setters or trend followers?

Who would have thought look and feel would ever become important to the enterprise? But the decades-long push--maybe we can trace it back to the Macintosh--to make it easier for regular human beings to work with technology has infiltrated the thinking of the high priests of IT. Up to a point, of course. After all, we are talking about the enterprise :).

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Still, there's a move underway to make enterprise apps, if not more friendly, then at least more useful. So it is that recent announcements out of Oracle with Social CRM Beehive play up the concept of integrating different enterprise features into integrated packages designed to make things easier on the regular user. Cisco is also doing something similar with the collaboration tools in its latest release of Unified Communications.

I thought it was instructive that Oracle co-president Charles Phillips went out of his way to note that Beehive was "Web 2.0-enabled." Personally, I'd prefer we banish what's essentially a vapid marketing term from the tech lexicon. But we're stuck with it so we'll make do with it for a while longer--at least until the inevitable shakeout that everyone expects but nobody can pinpoint.

Last week at the Web 2.0 conference, IBM attracted attention with its plans to open a center for "social software." As my colleague Jim Kerstetter noted, several companies holding court at New York's Jacob Javits Center at that show were as far from "social media" start-ups as you can imagine.

"Instead, they're trying to sell software, hosting, and consulting services to social media companies and to traditional technology buyers like auto makers that are trying to add communities and other "social" tools to their Web sites.

Earlier today, I had a conversation about this trend with ZDNet's Editor in Chief, Larry Dignan, who was in town to cover the Oracle World conference.

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