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In hotels, conference centers and exhibition halls all over the world, people just like us conduct summits and symposia to discuss what we will be doing in the next five years. Free buffets are consumed, PowerPoint presentations endured and conclusions drawn. Often these conclusions are a bit overstated, more rarely they're understated, and quite often they are pretty much what the audience wants to hear.

This week, we get news from two different corners of the world that Web-based collaboration, especially the type that draws in a company's suppliers, clients and partners, is where our business processes are headed -- and quickly.

At the SIIA On Demand Summit at Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose, representatives from Cisco and Adobe discussed what they see as gathering momentum toward Web-based, inter-company collaboration. The audience of Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors heard that companies want to do more than just communicate with outside firms by email, they want to use Web-based applications to connect with their partners and customers. The call was for vendors to catch up with the rising demand. Cisco and Adobe also talked about the advantages of their respective online collaboration products, both interestingly sharing the name Connect (Cisco's WebEx Connect and Adobe's Acrobat Connect). The content of their keynotes is covered in depth here.

Meanwhile, in Cannes, France -- months before the Hollywood power players hit town for the renowned film festival -- Gartner held its ITxpo and and Symposium to a shade less fanfare. The research firm reported findings that, by 2009, six out of 10 IT collaboration projects carried out will deal with connecting companies with customers, suppliers and partners. Gartner stresses that companies should look at incorporating Web 2.0 applications like wikis and blogs before employees create them without managerial buy-in, and thus without managerial control. Finally, they place the enterprise social software market at $227 million this year and predict that it will more than double by 2011. Sounds like good news all around for vendors already knee deep in Web-based collaboration initiatives. But, as usual, only time will tell whether (and when) Web 2.0 will be the revolution that many are touting.

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