Friday, July 4, 2008

John Newton - How Web 2.0 will change the face of business



In the article "How Web 2.0 will change the face of business", John Newton does a really good job at describing what Web 2.0 is essentially about and what impact the driving forces behind Web 2.0 have to businesses and software vendors (such as Alfresco themselves):

Web 2.0 is explained more by example than by defining the technologies that make it up. A collection of brands provide the metaphors for what exactly is different in the way we use new web technologies, such as Google for search, YouTube for video, Flickr for photos, MySpace and Facebook for social networking and Wikipedia for wikis...//...These brands as metaphors become the nouns and verbs of describing Web 2.0 as a new way of socializing, communicating and sharing with each other in huge, consumer-scale markets.

Web 2.0 is not really so much a revolution in technology, but in how people use technology and how people interact with each other as a result of that technology.

As a result of the introduction of the internet, rapid infrastructure build-out and
the new generation of Web 2.0 sites, we have seen one of the most dramatic
democratizations of technology since at least the PC, if not the telephone
. Through universal access, users discovered that computers could be used for far more than information; that they could be used as a medium of expression, sharing and revelation.

Software vendors are now jumping on the bandwagon with social software and collaborative features smelling a bit opportunity. Many are repackaged capabilities from another era of enterprise software. Some are looking at their portfolios and asking whether this is what they were doing all along. This misses the point. Web 2.0 has so far outstripped enterprise software as we know it in usability, accessibility and empowerment, that it causes mass rolling of eyeballs at its mere sight of not just the new generation, but most others as well. Those who are familiar with the ease of use and empowerment of Web 2.0 sites like YouTube, Wikipedia and Facebook are aware of what is possible and have much higher expectations. It will take a few years, but eventually they will figure out that Web 2.0 is not just a few new collaboration features and highly interactive web technologies, but empowerment of their users and the ability to draw in a critical mass of users from outside the trusted circle.

I could not agree more. I persistently argue that easy access and easy of use is a key part of Web 2.0 (as it is a key to empowering users). In the post "MOSS 2007 is missing the point with web 2.0" I take Microsoft as an example of a software vendor that seem to think that Web 2.0 is just a bunch of features, but I also conclude that it is a misconception that most of the old software giants have:

Web 2.0 is more than a bunch of new technologies – it represents a new paradigm in how people think and behave in how they use information technology. Much that was said about the web in the dotcom days (“the Internet revolution”) are actually happening today. Technology-wise, not much is new since the dotcom years. What is new is that the masses have adopted modern information technology and the Internet and practically made it to their own. Today, people are often faster at adopting new technologies than companies. They bring consumer technologies to work, they want to choose their own productivity tools (and do so) and see IT as a business thing rather than an IT department thing. To most people, IT is no longer an obscure thing.

In the hands of the old enterprise software giants, web 2.0 easily becomes a complex thing. Their ambition to extend and modernize their feature-packed software suits with web 2.0 applications and technologies might cause them to miss the whole point of web 2.0; the ease of use.

I have previously described some of my experiences from using SharePoint for collaboration, but I won't go into another argument whether or not SharePoint / MOSS 2007 is a good platform for collaboration or not - because it both is and it isn't. But it is not Web 2.0.