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New Media First Movers May Not Win

Google was not the first search engine – Facebook was not the first social networking site

When an enterprise declares its intention to implement Web 2.0, it could be attempting to do one of the following things...

    Use social networking sites available on the web (Blog, FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.) to reach out to their customers to:
  • sell to them
  • provide after sale services
  • Use technologies classified under Web 2.0 (Wiki, Blog, Social Networking etc.) to promote collaboration among employees
  • capture, disseminate and locate organization knowledge and source of knowledge

A variant of item 1 could be to create a social networking site to create a buzz around company’s products and services. Similarly, a variant of item 2 could be extended collaboration framework to cover other stake holders like suppliers, agents and even customers.

However, these approaches are different from the original meaning associated with the term web 2.0. The term was conceived to explain the functioning of those companies which thrived by harnessing the collective intelligence of the user and using the web as the platform. It you have not read the article “What is Web 2.0? by O’Reilly you should read it. You can also have a look at how the 7 terms identified by him has transformed over the years – “Web 2.0 – Has the term outlived its life?“.

So what emerges is that – today there are the 3 distinct faces of web 2.0.

1. Interacting with the Enlightened Consumer

“…consumer who has grown up with brand new perspectives and redefined the interplay of communications, relationships, brands, technology and media.” – from Five Rules to Engaging a New Breed of Consumer

For traditional brick-and-mortar company – managing impact of web 2.0 – living through it, surviving and thriving

  • Push to Pull: More important to be found by customer than to push ad – see  Media 2.0
  • The Groundswell Effect: Beware “… this is the social trend in which people uses technologies to get their things from each …” – term coined by Forrester – also a book
  • Multi-channel mindset: Not only are there many more physically different channels – but the web also needs to be looked as multi-channel – see Consumer Centric Thinking
  • Rise of Prosumer:
    Term coined by Alvin Toffler – Customer self service done properly can be win-win – power to customer – cost saving for company – example IATA Fast Travel initiative
  • Act on “Voice of Frustration”: Self service cannot handle exception – judicious human intervention is critical

2. Adopting Open Collaboration Platform

“…can make the corporate intranet into constantly changing structure built by distributed, autonomous peers – a collaborative platform that reflects the way work really gets done.” – from Enterprise 2.0: Dawn of Emergent Collaboration

For any organization – using web 2.0 technologies – to improve collective intelligence of the organization

  • Enterprise 2.0 & SLATES Principle: Term coined by Andrew McAfee – Search, Link, Authoring, Tag, Extension & Signal
  • From “Need to know” to “Need to hide”: Need a change of mindset – any information should be accessible by all unless there is an important reason to restrict the access
  • Trust people with content: Assume that – even if given free access to edit – people will behave responsibly while editing content
  • Be patient: Just because technology is available does not mean that people will immediately start using it
  • Be tolerant: Dissident view needs to be tolerated and even nurtured

3. Monetizing Collective Intelligence of Users

“…collective Intelligence draws on this to enhance the social pool of existing knowledge.” – from Collective Intelligence page of Wikipedia

For pure play web 2.0 company – how to get users to contribute? – how to monetize the contribution and inter-linkages?

  • Either you win big or you lose: Big becomes bigger and more successful – small becomes smaller and extinct
  • Chance of success very low: No room for niche player – Small and successful is not possible
  • First mover may not win: Google was not the first search engine – Facebook was not the first social networking site

Point to remember: These 3 faces of web 2.0 are different from each other – do not get confused – they are different problems calling for different strategies for success

More Stories By Udayan Banerjee

Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at http://setandbma.wordpress.com.
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...

  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting
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