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Is Web 2.0 Dead or Is It Thriving?

Why is Gartner confused?

If you listen to Gartner then you will get confused. In 2009, Gartner in their Hype Cycle declared that Web 2.0 is the technology which will have transformational impact on enterprise. However, on 2010, Web 2.0 does not even find a place in the Hype Cycle. Since Gartner is sending confusing signals, let us look at other signals to evaluate what we can conclude about the:

  1. Transformational impact of Web 2.0
  2. Level of adoption of Web 2.0

Web 2.0 has three distinct subdivisions. Each of them can be independently evaluated for the impact and adoption to see if Gartner was right in 2009 or are they giving the correct message in 2010.

  • Web 2.0 Fabric: There are innovators who have established infrastructure on the internet which acts as a medium of interaction between and among individuals and organizations. Every such successful innovation adds a technology to the list of technologies which are classified as web 2.0
  • Enterprise 2.0: When an enterprise uses these web 2.0 technologies to establish interaction channels among employees to improve overall organizational intelligence
  • Social Media Marketing: When an enterprise leverages these web 2.0 technologies to establish a 2 way communication with its customers and are able to derive benefit from it

Let us look at where each of the three subdivisions stands today.

Web 2.0 Fabric
The charge of pure play web 2.0 companies started with Google and more recently been led by Facebook. According to Heather Dougherty, Facebook reached an important milestone for the week ending March 13, 2010 and surpassed Google in the US to become the most visited website for the week.

In addition we have Twitter, LinkedIn and many others who are flourishing. They are taking the interconnectedness of our society to a new level and are transforming our lives. Among these organizations, I have a special weakness for LinkedIn and feel that is actually the dark horse. It is having a transformational impact on how enterprises function. Here is a simple but interesting example.

So there is no doubt that the impact of the web 2.0 fabric is transformational and the adoption is strongly picking up.

Enterprise 2.0
According to the latest survey “How Web 2.0 is helping companies compete“, Mckinsey concludes that;

The most intensive users of Web 2.0 are enjoying the biggest growth in market share. Many executives also see a positive impact on information sharing within their organizations.

They claim that many organizations are taking advantage of Web 2.0 capabilities to improve how work is done internally, and not just to extend their reach in the marketplace. Respondents reporting higher levels of Web 2.0 adoption and integration indicate that these technologies are helping break down organizational orthodoxies that impede performance. Half of all respondents in North America report using social networks; 28 percent of those in China and other developing markets say they do so.

So on this count, adoption is picking up and the impact on how enterprises work is also significant.

Social Media Marketing
There are indications that social media marketing is becoming a part of the marketing toolkit. Though John Jantsch claims that Why Social Media Doesn’t Matter Anymore; what he actually means that these techniques are more important than ever before, it should not be looked in isolation and it needs to become an integral part of marketing. He cites 4 areas where these techniques are critical.

  • Prospect engagement: prospects are drawn to the ability to interact with the companies, brands, and messages that they choose to absorb
  • Customer experience: being found by prospects is the new form of lead generation awareness, trust is the new form of lead conversion
  • Collaboration: Community sourcing is a practice that underpins all product, service and business development activities
  • Fusion: offline activity is enhanced, rather than replaced, by online activity

Even on this count the adoption and the impact is high.

So, we can safely say that Gartner was right last year and for some reason has messed it up on the 2010 Gartner Hype Cycle on Emerging Technologies!

Looking Ahead …
Seth Priebatsch made a very interesting presentation on the TED: The game layer on top of the world.

His thesis is that the world is already interconnected through different web 2.0 fabric and the future belongs to those who can find innovative ways to build upon these links to alter user behavior. He indicates that there are 7 techniques but talks about 4 of them.

  • Appointment dynamic: A dynamic in which to succeed, one must return at a predefined time to take a predetermined action. Example, happy hour, Farmville
  • Influence and status: The ability of one player to modify the behavior of another’s actions through social pressure. Example, color of credit card, game “Modern Warfare”, school report card
  • Progression dynamic: A dynamic in which success is granularly displayed and measured through the process of completing itemized tasks. Example LinkedIn status, game “World of Warcraft”
  • Communal discovery: A dynamic wherein an entire community is rallied to work together to solve a challenge. Example, Digg leader board, Darpa balloon challenge

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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