Introduction to Web 2.0

Summary

Web 2.0 has been described as the next generation of web technology. If refers to a set of technologies like Ajax and RSS feeds, together with social bookmarking, blogs, wikis, folksonomies and other means of enabling people to collaborate and share information online.

At the heart of web 2.0 are people. The demands and expectations are growing and this is changing the way people interact on the Web. The change is being driven by people and not by business or technology. Technology is enabling change and the Web, the platform.

Web 2.0 is not about technology, and is all about communication and sharing, participation and collaboration. Some of the key concepts behind Web 2.0 include:

Mash-ups

A mash-up could simply be a website or application that combines content from multiple sources. Enterprise mash-ups offer business partners the opportunity to connect and integrate on the Web. Google was part of the first mash-up with housingmaps.com.

Rich Internet Applications

Browser-based applications can be significantly enhanced, using technology like AJAX, to deliver newer functionality and to improve user experience.

Software as a Service

Software as a Service is a model for the delivery of software, whereby users don't own the software but pay for using it. Software as a Service applications are lightweight and generally easy to adopt and use.

Collective Intelligence

The focus is on user-generated content and is the idea that the more people that contributes to or utilizes a product or service, the better it becomes.

Social Computing

Social computing is a platform where people can collaborate in groups and share their expertise and opinions with other people, who are often strangers. Social computing is supported by technologies like wikis, blogs, RSS and discussion forums.

Leading the way in Web 2.0 are the likes of Google, Yahoo, eBay and Amazon.

Google really understand technology and have one of the strongest Web 2.0 models. People are changing the search results in Google everyday, with Google Maps being the basis for many mash-ups on the Web. Google have acquired the popular consumer media company, YouTube, which will allow Google to increase their global reach and technology leadership. The YouTube website allows people to watch and share original videos on the Web.

Amazon don't only sell products online but offer people the opportunities to contribute reviews, supply ratings and comment on other people's ratings. These and other factors contribute to the overall ratings of a product and indicate the most popular.

For those that have a thorough understanding of Web 2.0 technology and how it can benefit their business have an opportunity to:

  • Use advantages of newer technology to get ahead of their competitors. Be the first to market with new products and services.
  • Change the way in which they reach customers and build relationships with them, via blogs, wikis, discussion forums, podcasts, RSS feeds, messaging and chat.
  • Develop more integrated and more streamlined applications, which are more efficient for their customers. Rich Internet Applications encourages user interface innovation.
  • Improve operations and lower the cost of integration through enterprise mash-ups.

The challenge for business is to:

  • Know their customers and figure out how they can add value to what the business does.
  • Understand that, in some cases, the company brand is being opened to the public, and accept that some of the feedback will be negative. However, this can be an opportunity to promote the brand, and to use this as research to improve products and services.