Game-changing IT technologies -- and how they affect the everyday worker

The evolution of IT changes the way business gets the job done.

Digital freedom

Many IT shops no longer say no to the use in the enterprise of such Web 2.0 technologies as wikis, blogs and even social networking. Everyday workers who are accustomed to using these technologies in their personal life now can look forward to using that expertise to do their jobs faster and better. "Consumer devices and applications really influence the way people experience technology and conduct business," says Richard Mickool, executive director and CTO in IS at Northeastern University in Boston. "We can't ignore that. Instead, we're figuring out ways to take advantage of what is happening in the consumer world, what people have access to, what's going on in the Internet and use it to our advantage," he says. Here are three ways IT is enabling users to flex their digital freedom:

Wikis for everyone. Organizations from General Motors to the CIA are embracing wikis as a way to gather, organize and disseminate organizational knowledge across departments, customers and, in the CIA's case, other spy agencies. So, rather than spending six months to a year getting up to speed, new workers can learn the ropes quickly via the corporate wiki. Wikis also help make sure that when 30-year veterans leave the company, their knowledge doesn't leave with them.

Facebook anywhere. Once considered anathema to corporate IT, such social networking sites as MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are being looked to by an increasing number of enterprises as a way to keep tabs on current clients, potential customers and even competitors. In fact, 26 percent of businesses use social-networking sites now, and another 28 percent are evaluating or planning to use them, according to data from Nemertes Research. For many of these companies, social networking isn't limited just to work done inside corporate walls. Social sites are going mobile, enabling everyday workers to Tweet and Facebook colleagues, all from the comfort of an iPhone.

YouTube it. YouTube, the Web-based video-sharing site, has gone corporate. That means everyday workers -- at least the ones whose companies subscribe to Google's online Apps Premier suite -- now can build and post their own corporate videos using YouTube-like technology. Google's YouTube-based Video for Business, a new Apps Premier feature, lets users upload, edit and share videos across an enterprise just by using a browser. While it eases the dissemination of company information, it also ensures security by blocking access to the videos by anyone outside the corporate domain. For the everyday worker, this means there's no need to book time in that expensive videoconferencing room anymore -- just post it and go.

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