What’s the Future Series – Web 2.0 Strategies for organizations

Even though I am late in writing this, still I wanted to write about this topic and wanted to share my point of view on how companies can leverage Web 2.0 to their advantage.

Part 1 – History and Definitions

Web 2.0 is an industry term that has received a great deal of attention. There has been a lot of debate around how to define it because it encapsulates a host of new (and some not so new) technologies.

The term was coined by O’Reilly Media to describe second-generation internet-based services. Wikipedia goes on to say that Web 2.0 is about using the web as a “platform” to provide an enhanced user experience via Rich Internet Applications (RIA), and extending the reach of your web content through syndication technologies such as Really Simple Syndication (RSS).

As appealing as these technologies may sound, simply adopting them doesn’t guarantee an improved visitor experience or more effective channels for reaching your customers.

In this entry I will try to capture the methodology on how you could use these technology advancements for revenue generation in your company. In my understanding:-

Definition Web 2.0:
“Web 2.0 is the advancement in Internet technology. It’s like a group of financially viable, socially active, and technologically collaborative changes in behavior, attitudes, tools and applications that are allowing the Web to become the next platform for communication, collaboration, community, and cumulative learning. And off-course drive sales and generating revenues”

The following themes appear commonly in the various definitions of Web 2.0:

– Collaboration:
the first theme is about people working together, collaborating, to create software, content, communities, art, music, literature, and a multitude of other things. Web 2.0 tools and applications support this type of interaction at their core.

– Conversation:
There is a conversation happening and it’s not just happening in your corporate website forum. It is happening on blogs. It is a public conversation about politics, business, social issues, and anything else you can imagine, including your company.

– Community:
We have had online communities now for at least fifteen years or more. But the tools for building online communities are now becoming more widespread and communities are forming around every imaginable (and unimaginable) subject, product, and industry. If you are looking for your “tribe”, they are probably out there somewhere.

– Connection:
we are building messaging systems that now connect people to people, people to machines, and machines to machines. The names of these systems are not important but their function is.

– Content Creation: It turns out that if you give people the tools to create “stuff”, they do just that. In fact, they create so much stuff that it quite frankly upsets our assumptions about who in our society are the creators and who are the consumers.

– Cumulative Learning: think of cumulative learning as peer reviewed journals for every person on the planet with internet access. People can now build on the knowledge of others (through the miracles of search and wikis) faster than at any time in history.

– Collective Intelligence: In certain conditions, it turns out that groups of people are smarter than individuals. This is counter-intuitive and odd but apparently true.

– Change of scale: Web 2.0 companies can scale up fast. Because of the spread of broadband internet and the sheer number of people on the internet, we are seeing key measures (number of users, time to market, time to exit) that are quite extraordinary.

– Core values: Openness, transparency, and a respect for users are three core values that seem to permeate Web 2.0 definitions and discussions.

– Cheap and Fast: A key quality of Web 2.0 is that developers and entrepreneurs can build, deploy and profit from applications for less money and in less time than ever before.

Is it REA L or is it all just HYPE?

Let’s take a quick tour of the landscape to see what has been happening in the past few years and then you can decide for yourself if this set ofchanges warrants the attention that it’s getting.
We now have more than a BILLION people on the Internet, a few hundred million of whom are online at any given moment.

–>Bloggers are now doing fact-checks on the media…and winning. Some bloggers now have MORE TRAFFIC and HIGHER SEARCH ENGINE RATINGS than media companies that have been around for years.

–>People said they would never buy a car over the Internet. In 2005, eBay sold $11 billion worth of automobiles.

–>Wikipedia, a web-based encyclopedia, became the world’s largest reference work in four years, surpassing the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica.

–>A startup in Europe built a little application called Skype, which lets people call each other across the Internet for free. 27 months later, eBay snapped up this company for $4.1 billion. The application is now disrupting the 100 year old telecom industry.

–>A Vancouver-based gaming company invented a neat little photo-sharing program and sold the company to Yahoo less than two years later for approximately $35 million. They had about 10 people on that team. Flickr currently hosts over 70 million photos and has over 2.5 million users.

–>In October 2005, Microsoft issued a company-wide email telling the troops to embrace “the services wave” [Web 2.0]. Then, in May 2006, CEO Steve Ballmer stated that Microsoft is focusing over $6 billion of R&D towards ‘software as a service’ in 2006. Software as a service is one of the patterns of Web 2.0.

–>A small team of programmers started a website in 2003 that would help them build their social network. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. bought MySpace in August 2005 for $580 million, less than 2½ years after it was formed. He bought it because social websites like this are massive revenue generation engines.

–>Half a million people MAKE A LIVING on eBay.

–>Nineteen people run a small site called Craigslist which is now the seventh largest website in the world. This little operation is DECIMATING the North American classified advertising industry which can’t compete against FREE listings.

–>Content is exploding. Technorati, a service that tracks the number of blogs on the internet, listed effectively zero in March 2003 and reached 20 million blogs in October 2005. This means that the number of blogs doubled every five months for 36 months in a row.k Between October 2005 and the time this Manifesto was July 2006 when this Manifesto went to ‘print’, that number went from 20 million blogs to 49.8 million blogs.

I will be covering the details on how to leverage this for your organization in the next entry…


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