IBM has launched an effort to extend Web 2.0 to the corporate world by unveiling team collaboration, social computing and web mashup development tools.

The new Quickr 8, Lotus Connections and Info 2.0 products are part of IBM's new "Web 2.0 Goes to Work" initiative, which aims to expand business use of popular consumer technologies like blogs, wikis and social networks, said Rod Smith, vice president of emerging technologies.

Web 2.0 technology can help workers more easily brainstorm and collaborate with one another and with corporate partners and customers, explained Smith.

John Tincher, global Lotus Notes administrator at Flint Group North America, said that his firm has made limited use of Web 2.0 technologies and that he doubts they will become business-critical in the near term.

"Having the social networking at some point will be wonderful, but I don't see it taking root at least for another couple of years in our environment," he said.

Tincher said he uses a blog to list his daily schedule for his bosses to view and wiki technology to make Notes administration resources available to colleagues.

Company-wide, however, the manufacturer of printing inks, plates and pigments is just now delving into the use of instant messaging and relies on email as its primary communications tool, he added.

Vijay Sonty, CIO for Broward County Public Schools in Floridai said that the tools won't likely benefit the K-12 education sector until IBM can come up with specific features needed there.

For example, the Web 2.0 tools should support training programs for the district's 15,000 teachers and add the security capabilities required to receive federal monies, he said.

Sonty, who was a member of the IBM Lotus customer board of advisers, said that he does expect other businesses to more easily take advantage of Web 2.0's ability to blend content and collaboration.

The Quickr 8 team collaboration tool helps companies use blogs, wikis and team space templates to share business documents and access libraries through plug-ins, IBM said.

The Lotus Connections social networking tool set includes Web 2.0 components like bookmarking, IBM said.

It described Info 2.0 as a suite of tools for customising and linking Web and corporate data into mash-ups.

Oliver Young, an analyst at Forrester Research said that the Quickr and Connections tools will be welcomed in companies where employees bring Web 2.0 technologies into work to "collaborate in ways they can at home."

However, he cautioned that calculating a return on investment will be difficult. "There are only rare cases where you can say, 'This is how much time it saved,' or, 'This is exactly how many systems we were able to sunset.'"