Friday, October 16, 2009

Wither Web 2.0?

Recently McKinsey and company published some summary data from their third annual survey of over 1,700 companies on their use of Web 2.0 technologies. To see McKinsey's summary go to:

Looking at their data there are a few things one can observe:

1. Adoption of Web 2.0 technologies is strong. For both internal and customer focused uses it is increasing but uses involving partners and other external parties has not changed:

Adoption rate by Community of Interest by Year
(source: McKinsey 2009 Web 2.0 Survey)

2. Increased adoption means that most firms are increasing or maintaining their investments in Web 2.0 technologies:

Future Investment Plans for Web 2.0
(source: McKinsey 2009 Web 2.0 Survey)
This section of the survey also indicates that the number of companies who were not sure of their investment direction had dropped significantly from 30% in 2007 to half that today. People are making up their minds that Web 2.0 matters to business.

3. There are a handful of Web 2.0 technologies that make up most of the use:

Web 2.0 Applied Purposes
(source: McKinsey 2009 Web 2.0 Survey)

Social Networking (e.g. Facebook-style technolgies) and blogs lead the list. Video sharing is big, especially with the otherwise tepid Partner/External category of uses. Peer-to-peer uses (e.g. Napster-like technologies) have fallen from being used by 34% of respondents in 2007 to only 10% today.

McKinsey has not published on the public site the business functions that these technologies have been put to. Other sources cite listening to and engaging with customers, in customers' own words, about their thoughts on products, services, values and brands through Facebook and similar services and through blogging and watching the feedback. Video sharing allow for rich communication and is used to help solidify understanding between firm and partners.

The big technology for Internal use is wiki's presumably replacing or extending the capabilities of internal web portals.

Marketing professionals are the most prone to use Web 2.0 at 73%. Leaving IT participation aside, the remaining functions, in descending order, are Sales, R&D, Service and Production/Operation at 51%, 49%, 41% and 34% respectively.

Working on Step 2:

It is apparent that what is collectively known as Web 2.0 technology will be important to business for some time to come. In many cases it will be transformational. In any meeting with marketing professionals it tends to come up and is rarely far from top-of-mind. The rest of us have to catch up and get aware.

One obstacle, the terminologies will be a bit murky for quite a while. If you read the commentary on the McKinsey site (see below for the link) the complaint is made that the names McKinsey has chosen for technologies are not "standard." Nothing is. In discussions with experts they will say "I'm not sure what is meant here by "rating" but..."

The bigger obstacle is that unless you use Web 2.0 in a more serious way than voting for the most attractive head of state (this week on Facebook) its difficult to effectively understand what Marketing is trying to accomplish, how you can help, and how you can extend the impact of their plans.

Sooner, rather than later, a competitor will develop an effective way to take the input from Web 2.0 interactions and directly, swiftly, and in an agile manner inform product development, delivery and service faster and better than others.

Here's a link to a recent post about the obstacle companies face in adopting social media: Five Reasons Corporations are failing at Social Media

Don't fail.

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