If you're a business who has been ignoring the Web 2.0 trend and the spread of social media: look out, the tide is shifting and you're about to be left behind. The rise of social media didn't happen overnight, the power of the internet to unite people, the ubiquity of broadband, the rise of Gen Y, the development of new technologies for socializing on the web - all of these things and more have led to the rise of social media. And this new force is affecting change in the way that companies do business - now and for many years to come.
Web 2.0 Is Nearly Mainstream
Business Week ran an update to their 2005 study "Beyond Blogs," saying that today the title should be "Social Media Will Change Your Business." The story highlighted the current trend of workers not just using blogs, but also social networks and other Web 2.0 applications to spread news, connect, create buzz, interact and socialize with others -both for business and for pleasure.Just recently,
While this lack of control frightens upper management and causes I.T. nightmares in some cases, businesses are already becoming aware of these new trends as the next Generation, Gen Y or the "Millennials," as they are sometimes called, enters the workforce.
Even 60 Minutes recently updated their story about this new generation, 80 million strong, who are rapidly taking over the web...and the world (as we said here). Besides their seemingly alien values - everyone's a winner, me-first, work isn't everything, I'm a commodity I can sell myself to the next business who wants my talents, needing to always know why?, and more, one of the most visible changes is their interaction with technology. Born into a time when computers had always existed, Gen Y embodies the definition of a digital native and they have mastered the tools of social media and use them as easily as we check our email.
Web 2.0 Numbers Reveal The Change Underway
And adapt they must because the number of companies who are already integrating Web 2.0 technologies into their businesses processes and I.T. infrastructure is on the rise. A study by Forrester on this topic points to hard numbers that back this up.
In fact, the adoption rate of Web 2.0 technologies by I.T. is actually stronger in enterprises than it is in SMBs, with 42% of enterprise businesses now utilizing Web 2.0 technologies like AJAX, Flash, Flex, etc. to 32% of SMBs. Additionally, there is growth in the areas of Web 2.0 app investing, with a number of companies investing, piloting, or considering investment in Web 2.0 technologies like RSS, podcasting, wikis, and blogs.
Getting Web 2.0 Right
Internally, the trick to getting the right mix of Web 2.0 and other technologies has to do with the speed of change and the amount of risk to the business. Where risk is lot and speed of change high - in areas like web publishing, team management, and help desk technologies, for example - Web 2.0 applications and technologies can help the business become more efficient.
Externally, Web 2.0 technologies are used to take content to the customers. RSS, social networks, web and desktop widgets, blogging, user communities, and more can help a company easily reach customers to communicate a company's message and increase brand awareness. This topic is discussed in more detail on the Employee Evolution blog in an article titled "Every Company Should Use Social Media," where the techniques for utilizing social media to improve credibility, brand, "coolness," and more are examined.
Ultimately, companies ignoring this shift will only do so their own peril. The numbers don't lie: your customers have adapted and your competition has adapted - turn a blind eye and prepare to lose marketshare. You may even just lose altogether.
The chart in this post is courtesy of a Forrester webinar sponsored by the Forrester Leadership Boards Application & Program Management Council, a role-based knowledge community for senior Application & Program Management Professionals: http://www.forrester.com/leadershipboards. Photo credit for Web 2.0 logos: shopping2null