Web 2.0? Or Web of zero?
This somewhat provocative title reflects the current debate. What is the point of talking about Web 2.0 if the challenge ultimately is to fundamentally redefine how we communicate via the Internet. Whether a website editor or a user. Whether a multinational or a simple SMEs. Whether a child, senior or PRA, favorite target of marketers.
In the frame of this article, we can only briefly glance through each area that would deserve much more accurate and detailed developments. The objective here is to define a framework to identify the strategic implications of Web 2.0., far beyond the marketing concept, in what should be our field of action for the next 10 years. We will develop monthly the various strategic pillars outlined below.
Everyone's talking about. It does not go a day without a new vision of Web 2.0. on the Web. We will therefore make a point on this phenomenon, which has a major impact on how we are going to use the Internet but also how we are going to conceive it.
A brief return to the past will help us better understand what is happening today.
In 1993 in Belgium, Internet arrived on our PC. And only on our PC. Let’s call it Web 1.0.
What are its characteristics? It is mainly a static Web made of a set of rigid pages (html). In the better cases, the sites devoted to public communication provide animations (gif or flash) and now rich media. But still the content comes from the designer without ever (or rarely) worrying about the logic of used by the visitor).
At the same time bandwidths increase significantly their capacities in information transfer, processors become more powerful, languages increasingly stable and easy to implement. Finally, the Internet came out of the PC to address our mobile phones, our cars, our homes (we can now surf wireless), and even public transports such as the train. But above all the sound and image were able to take possession of the Internet thanks to the progress mentioned here above.
Here is the stage for the arrival of Web 2.0. But what is it?
It is based on 5 different pillars which are inseparable from each other.
Pillar: The Participatory Web
It is the source of Web 2.0. Its characteristic is to reflect the logic of the user. It is also called "Consumer Centric". The content is shared by the publisher and the reader (from there the term "participatory"). A famous case was that of the BBC website that allows everyone to become, within certain rules, a journalist for a day or even having his permanent blog. The associated tools are forums, chats, blogs, wikies ...
The ergonomics of the site is subject to the pressure of the users and therefore highly variable.
As far as communication is concerned, the power of participatory Web is that it enables the implementation of Permission Marketing (or Opt-in). One will be less interested in the global traffic than in repeatedly visits of the site and databases quality at the source of e-crm.
Second Pillar: The Modular Web
Without doubts the deepest change resulting from Web 2.0. (with mobility that we shall discuss below). Deep because it affects both the modularity of the form (or format) and the one of the background (information).
The form itself of a website will evolve into a modular architecture. No more classic menus (horizontal or vertical). They leave room for an open architecture. Open for personal use of the surfer. The ergonomics of a site will be directly linked to the "Consumer-centric" logic. From closed architecture, we come to an open architecture.
As far as the form is concerned, major adjustments will have to be made in relation with new uses as mobile phones, TV, the GPS screen of a car, digital display ...
As to the content, it will also become modular because the user will choose the type of information he wishes to see, but also treat. Let’s only mention the example of iGoogle. It is inevitable and so prescient.
Third Pillar: The Mobile Web
The central point is that the Web is leaving the PC station, to settle almost everywhere. house, car, mobile phones, trains, planes, ... This is possible because the technologies are stable, the protocols almost universal and broad bandwidths settle up everywhere. There are interdependencies between mobility and modularity. One involves another (and vice versa). That is precisely what makes the Web 2.0. totally different from Web 1.0. Previously we had to go to the Web, now the Web comes to us where we are and when we want. At least in theory, the formats are not yet standard enough, easy to use and the access cost (Mobile) is still too high.
Furthermore, we will soon no longer pay Internet access depending on the length of use and / or capacity of bandwidth, or even the services offered, but according to our "Data" use. Download video, audio files, text, and even simply phone, watch TV on our mobile phone, or surf on the web through TV; all this will be invoiced based on the number of data requested by the user.
Fourth Pillar: The "Rich" Web
The so-called "Rich Media" is simply the dominant use in the Internet of animations (flash), of Web3D, of image and sound. No so-called site can ignore the Rich Media. Just visit sites of information (press, TV and radio) to be aware of this. But beyond that, there is a certain future for e-learning in the form of video conferencing, Internet education, training, seminars, ...
What audio-visual brings the Web world is a deep re-definition of the logic of content. We are still in a logical implementation of pages of texts (heavy, stiff, rarely read), but that the Rich Media prefigures is a major movement to a different use. The picture and sound will dominate the text. We will have other means of acquiring information. Fast, didactic, factual via the new formats and deeper through the classic text.
A serious re-definition of strategies for implementing content certainly will be necessary.
Fifth Pillar: The “Permission " Web
What already characterized the Web 1.0. but much more Web 2.0. is the logic of permission given by the person who agrees to join a site or simply to belong to a database according to their interests.
This is called the logic of opt-in, or Permission Marketing.
The change is crucial. Previously, we had a vision of Quantitative Data Mining. More there were members, more the database was rich. Now our position is changing. It is better to have a smaller sized database, but much more reactive. What interest to have hundreds of thousands of pseudo customers, if more than half of them does not respond to our messages? It is a qualitative logic that is created, and expressed more strongly with the Web 2.0.
Databases (data-warehousing, data mining and data reporting) are evolving dramatically. We gradually pass from a quantitative vision (DM) to a qualitative (e-crm) vision.
It is understandable that all these dramatic changes will quickly and irremediably put Web 1.0. to the level of "Dinosaur Web."
This causes a very important change in the definitions of communication strategies of the brand to the consumer. Listening is much greater, the reflectivity of the information received and allows genuine dialogue, the effect of advertising continuously is declining, and so on. We call it the Prosumerism. Indeed, consumers become prosumers, real ambassadors of the brands because they are listened to and their decision respected whether to establish a real dialogue with the company or not.
The new emerging media (mobile, video mail, PDA, BlackBerry, SMS, SMS2Mail, e-outdoor, i-tv (or enhanced TV), gps, home, ...) will disrupt our communication modes. Currently it is still experimental, or at best emerging, but already the logic of permission marketing and / or communication has become obvious.
Moreover, these new media have the advantage of being hyper-responsive, inexpensive, flexible and above all completely usable in an online test logic.
In the coming years, we will fully review how we communicate. This makes our job exciting. Web 2.0. is one aspect of the revolution that is taking place. But it is of capital importance. We will illustrate it next month through the Apple trilogy. IPod - Iphone - ITV and its ITunes platform. A technological revolution is preparing that will completely change the way we use information and our entertainment.