What does the shift from Web 1.0 to 2.0 mean for the digital channel strategy within organizations? What are some of the consequences of the shift? What social media content will be a critical part of this Web 2.0 phenomenon?
Glen: The Web has been a rapidly evolving environment every month since the first Mosaic browser appeared in February 1993. So has a fundamental change happened that justifies the distinction between "Web 2.0" and the whole period before it? If so, can you interpret what this change is from the standpoint of people in business responsible for the digital channel strategy in their organization?
Dan: From my perspective, over the last ten years there's been this shift away from personal productivity tools to organizational productivity tools and applications. Organizations are just now starting to see the huge value of building relationships and networks within their organization in an effort to improve overall productivity and employee loyalty. It's about harnessing the collective wisdom that resides in every corporation to create competitive advantage in the global marketplace.
Glen: So are you drawing a contrast in values here between individualism and collectivism somewhere?
Dan: Yes. The true value is in the network... creating connections between people, processes and information. In the mid 1990's, corporate focus was on personal productivity, with tools like email and word processing dominating the front office. But by 2000, the Web started to shift the attention to the importance of groups and teams. More emphasis was given to tools that could facilitate collaboration, communication, and knowledge sharing across departmental teams. The next generation of tools is now just emerging - what is now called Web 2.0 - where users can quickly and easily over the Web collaborate and publish on a global scale.
Glen: So, is there some shift here in the relative status of the originator or the participant in creating the content and the meaning? Are we really designating a line between Web 1.0 and 2.0 where the business of making meaning in the traditional model had been closer to the sender, whereas now it is more focused on the participants?
Dan: Exactly. I think we will quickly see a new generation in the workforce that expects to collaborate and share knowledge. Right now, on the Web, anyone can have an identity (myspace or Facebook); they can share information easily and quickly (YouTube, WIKIpedia, Flickr); and they can connect with almost anyone in the world. Executives are now looking at how these social networking tools can provide value within the enterprise by increasing the opportunity for collaboration and innovation from all parts of the company.
It's quite an interesting phenomenon and we see this new world of corporate social networking as one that is scary but also hugely rewarding for businesses and enterprises that get it right.
Glen: Let's boil that down a little to the role of someone responsible for managing digital strategy for a B2B organization. What would be some of the consequences of this shift, from your point of view?
Dan: A more efficient, effective, and knowledgeable organization. One that responds faster to market opportunities; has a higher rate of innovation; and whose customers and employees are empowered and loyal to the company. As a business executive... you just can't ignore it... Web 2.0 is a tidal wave carrying the future, and if you don't figure out how to leverage these new tools, change your existing business models and make this part of your corporate culture, your organization will most likely be quickly left behind.
Glen: What is your perception of this shift in the external communications in digital channels of these organizations as they deal with individuals, as people network outside the corporate enterprise firewall?
Dan: What I find interesting is that organizations are now looking at new ways to deepen and strengthen their connections with customers, partners, and suppliers. Executives are discovering that old "customer - vendor" models just don't work anymore. Competition for business is now global... and they need to shift to a model that is more "partner - partner," where all stakeholders have a strong investment in creating a "win-win" relationship for the long term. Setting up the right organizational culture with the right tools is critical for success. Imagine that your company can now launch new products within hours rather than months, with instant feedback on successes and flaws; or being able to have direct dialogue and conversations with stakeholder groups in real time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Glen: You raised an important issue that has to do with the changing nature of the relationship between the employee and the employer and Web 2.0 and what control or affiliation is assumed there. I think there's a shift there, don't you?
Dan: A total shift. I would describe it as a shift away from organizational control to that of being an enabler. I heard a great quote the other day... "The capacity of thousands of knowledge workers to innovate is far greater than that of a few executives."
It's about flattening and empowering your organization by removing the barriers that impede collaboration and knowledge sharing. Executives must figure out ways to change business models and corporate culture to enable connections between people, processes, and information and encourage participation.
Glen: Dan, I wonder if you could talk for a moment about the use of community portals on the external side of a digital channel strategy in context of search optimization goals. Are people applying Web community strategies as part of an overall strategy to become visible through the search engines to prospective customers, prospective employees, and prospective partners?
Dan: I think both communities of practice and communities of interest within corporations are just beginning to emerge. The promise of communities within corporations is that individuals working on similar projects or problems can self-organize to help each other. They can share perspectives, advice, best practices, and ideas resulting in faster learning and innovation. I believe online communities could become the key building blocks for knowledge sharing and innovation across the entire enterprise.
Online communities must be easy to set up and use and be self managed. If your employees have to call IT to set it up... it will most likely fail. Critical Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, forums, wikis, search, tagging, commenting, rating must all available to the user over the Web and integrated with commonly used business applications.
Glen: So, community-rated content is an essential part of this 2.0 phenomenon?
Dan: Most definitely. I don't think it's enough to just have access to the published content. It is extremely important to have access to the institutional knowledge that surrounds every piece of published content. This means not only who published the content; but having access to their profile (expertise, education, past work projects); previous publications; blog posts and user comments and ratings on their content. Why this is so important is that it gives relevancy to the content. How was the data gathered? Who was involved? Did others see value in the content? How has the content been used? This information transforms the content into knowledge.