Thursday, December 20, 2007

REVEALED: The true meaning of Web 2.0

Okay, so we've recently stated publicly (in front of 900 people at the ABTA Convention) that Travolution is banning the use of the phrase "Web 2.0".

But here is a guest post from Tim Walters of Fatwire Software, with his own typically offbeat approach to the subject:

A colleague just sent me a recent article on Ecommerce Times containing a nice example of the misunderstanding of Web 2.0 – namely, the half ridiculous claim that Ajax and JavaScript code are "at the core of Web 2.0."

Sorry, but I can blog until my fingers drop off (as Kevin May regularly does) without encountering or needing any Ajax. (It's only half ridiculous because they hedge it by stating that the core of Web 2.0 are applications that use Ajax code – and a blog site isn't in that sense an application.)

Certainly, Web 2.0 has involved Ajax and blogs. But I think the best way (that is, the productive and profitable way) to think about Web 2.0 is neither as a set of technologies like Ajax and JavaScript nor a set of functionalities like blogs, wikis, UGC and tags.

Instead, think of “Web 2.0” as a name for the utterly revolutionary shift from product- or company-centric sites to consumer-centric sites.

If you succeed in creating and nurturing a consumer-centric site, it might use Ajax, and it will probably have blogs and user generated content – but it might not, and it doesn’t have to.

On the wider front, you still see articles titled, "Web 2.0 – Hype or Reality?"

Sorry again, but by now this is like asking in about 2004: "The Internet – Hype or Reality?" (Someone should write a piece titled, "The Question of Web 2.0 Hype – Hype or Reality?")

Yes, the term is applied far too often and far too loosely to far too many things – but if you base any online business strategy on the belief that Web 2.0 is just hype, you're going to be Dead 2.0.

It's understandable that people are confused. But the real problem isn't the confusion – such that the confusion would slowly dissipate and people would come to terms with the need to stop managing content and start managing the web experience.

The real problem is that the confusion keeps people from concentrating on – or even recognising – the Real Problem – that is, the fundamental revolution in the consumers’ relation to the enterprise and the brand.

Worrying about blogs and forums and customer generated media and Ajax – or even not worrying about it, but happily and proactively implementing them – is just shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.

While you're tinkering with your company- or product-centric site, the consumer-empowerment iceberg has doomed your fundamental approach to the online/digital channel.

Recognise it really quickly, or just start playing Nearer My God To Thee.

Tim Walters, director international marketing and strategy, Fatwire Software


JEB at buhlerworks said...

Totally agree. web 2.0 is not about technology. It's about the shift from product centric to customer centric.

Travolution Blogger said...

Jeb: But we've all been talking about it for too long, especially in terms of travel. Please ban the phrase with us!

Fabienne Rabbiosi - said...

I am 100% with you here. Web 2.0 is "supported by technology" but the main differentiation factor is its social component.

I was conducting an Online Marketing workshop the other day for 30 regional tourism operators in Australia and I was trying to find a word in plain English to explain to them what Web 2.0 means for their business.

I eventually used the phrase "Chinese Whispers" as the web is now based on what people say about you and the message could well be not very reflective of who you really are. It is up to the business to embrace Web 2.0 and respond to these messages to create their identity.

I also like to use this web 2.0 illustration as it helps people understand where they currently stand and what they don't know aka "what knowledge they have to gain to be a better online marketer".