Saturday, August 30, 2008

Web 2.0, Creating a Culture Change

Social software, the platform for Web 2.0 is growing at a rate of 43% per year. Forrester predicts that $4.5 billion will be spent by 2013, and the business executives are scrambling to understand what it is and its significance in the workplace and our culture.

The term Web 2.0 was coined by Tim O’Reilly. “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as a platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.”

That definition leaves a lot up for interpretation. At DC Web Designers we believe Web 2.0 to be a platform that allows users to benefit and participate in the sharing of ideas, building communities, and a faster method of retrieving information. Users do so through websites offering social networking, web-based communities and forums, wikis, blogs, etc. This “collective intelligence” is structuring what was unstructured and fragmented information spread throughout the web.

We aren’t witnessing a huge technology breakthrough with Web 2.0. Most of the functionality that drives Web 2.0 has been seen for a decade. It is how people are using the technology, and how they are interacting is what changed. The more web sites embrace empowering their users, the more successful they are. Web 2.0 offers freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly. The sites restricting these basic democratic rights are losing because offering the ability to group masses of likeminded people are creating smarter systems and process than anyone person could ever achieve.

Business owners who feared unmonitored masses communicating within their web space are seeing shocking results from community based sites who embraced it. You can see examples of this through the Wiki phenomenon. Wiki, is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content (taken directly from Wikipedia). To most business owners, this philosophy seems like it would foster destructive and useless input, however we have seen that the community of users catch malicious content and correct it.
We are witnessing a culture change on a global level. The behaviors of Internet users are creeping into the workplace, promoting positive change.

Whether it is on the Internet or in a board meeting, organizations that are empowering employees are finding work forces that are optimistic, engage in debate and collaboration, and create high-trust transparent working relationships. The effect of Web 2.0 is a global change in behavior. People are fearless and are willing to engage with co-workers, customers, vendors, and executives to find solutions and create systems that are for the good of the whole.
Web 2.0 behaviors can be leveraged within the enterprise for more efficient knowledge collaboration. For instance, Web 2.0 communities can be used for new product feedback, which shortens product development time. Targeted blogging can influence public opinion about your organization’s brand and image. Semantic tagging can increase the navigation of informational searching.

According to the Forrester paper Social Computing Dresses Up For Business, enterprise Web 2.0 can improve five important business activities:

- Content creation and publishing
- Team co-ordination
- Proactive information delivery
- Information location
- Communities of interest

What will Web 3.0 bring? As the business owner of an Internet Solution Provide company, I can’t make guarantees. Still, I see a continuation of Web 2.0 technologies being leveraged with current practices such as polling, user profiling, data mining and Artificial Intelligence.

To learn more about Web 2.0 innovations such as blogging, discussion boards, RSS, and Wiki, please call DC Web Designers at 410-750-6499.

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