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The confusion around what constitutes Web 2.0 has led to the current situation where some limited aspects on Web 2.0 are being construed as the whole Web 2.0 enchilada. This is naturally leading to the question: What is Web 2.0? But, before I present my own view, let me take the liberty of establishing a hypothesis: Business and technology are getting more and more intertwined to the point that sometime in the near future, IT will just become a part of a business function.
We can debate when and whether this will happen at all, but I’m sure we’ll all agree that the need to understand business strategy & direction is becoming more and more paramount to defining effective IT strategies. “Business backwards” thinking will give way to “Business” thinking.
With that key point established, let me present my own definition of Web 2.0. In my view, Web 2.0 = 4Cs — content, commerce, community and context. If you dwell further, the first two Cs are what really made up Web 1.0 and the two new Cs are really adding the new dimensions to Web 2.0. Let’s spend a couple of minutes on the last C …
This is the C that’s making Web 2.0 a force to reckon with. Context really implies the following:
Contextual search: If I’m on an insurance site and am searching for risk, it shows me only risks associated with my liabilities, environment, policies, i.e. only related to the insurance I am looking for. This is a huge leap forward in terms to ensuring that customer get what they are looking for without having to sift through the loads of irrelevant results that show up today. If you look around the Web today, sites like Kayak and SideStep do a phenomenal job at that; almost a verticalized search, if you will.
Personalization: The second dimension of context is the personalization, localization aspect, i.e., I get only what’s relevant for or what I want to see. What this really tells us is that Web 2.0 is much more than the C= Community, i.e. the blog, social networking, chat etc. It’s really the combination of the 4C’s that adds up to an effective Web 2.0 strategy. Moreover, what’s important for a Web 2.0 strategy for one organization will and can be very different from another.
What’s important for a consumer centric organization (B2C) will likely be very different from that of a business centric organization (B2B). This leads to the next key point—your Web 2.0 strategy (and consequently the relative importance of the specific C’s of the framework) is purely a function of your business vision and objectives. While there are multiple ways of getting to your Web 2.0 solution roadmap, I’m particularly fond of the Strategy Canvas (Blue Ocean Strategy) & the Porter’s framework. Let’s adapt those two to help define a framework that I think organizations could use effectively to define their roadmap.
As you see, the first and probably the most important step in defining a Web 2.0 strategy is defining your business (or marketing) vision and objectives. This needs to be quickly narrowed down to the strategic business levers (SBL) that form the core of the vision and objectives. While these SBLs are very contextual and a function of the vision and objectives articulated, some examples of SBLs are brand awareness, product penetration, customer acquisition, service satisfaction, profitability, etc.