Saturday, March 24, 2007

Web 2.0

Mckinsey Quarterly sent me an article on the result of a recent global survey on how businesses are using Web 2.0. This is an interesting question as Web 2.0 is quite new, in particular to the business sector. It is useful to know how the business sector is taking up the new technologies and the new trends. Experience shows us that new IT uses are quickly adopted by private companies. As resource and system managers, it is important to have broad common knowledge on the latest IT development. This article is a good example of timely education on leading edge IT development which has a real impact on the business sector. The survey reported that three-quarters of the companies responded say that their companies plan to maintain or increase investments in Web 2.0 technologies in coming years.

Nine Web 2.0 trends were included in the Mckinsey survey. They are:

1. Blogs: Online journals or diaries hosted on a Web site and often distributed to other sites or readers using RSS.

2. Collective intelligence: this refers to any system that attempts to tap the expertise of a group rather than an individual to make decisions. Technologies that contribute to collective intelligence include collaborative publishing and common databases for sharing knowledge.

3. Mash-ups: Aggregations of content from different online sources to create a new service. An example would be a GIS program that pulls apartment listings from one site and displays them on a digital map to show where the apartments are located.

4. Peer-to-peer networking (P2P): A technique for efficiently sharing files either over the Internet or within a closed set of users. Unlike the traditional method of storing a file on one machine, which can become a bottleneck if many people try to access it at once, P2P distributes files across many machines, often those of the users themselves. Some systems retrieve files by gathering and assembling pieces of them from many machines.

5. Podcasts: Audio or video recordings, a multimedia form of a blog or other content. They are often distributed through an aggregator, such as iTunes.

6. RSS (Really Simple Syndication): It allows people to subscribe to online distributions of news, blogs, podcasts, or other information.

7. Social networking: This refers to systems that allow members of a specific site to learn about other members’ skills, talents, knowledge, or preferences. Commercial examples include Facebook and LinkedIn. Some companies use these systems internally to help identify experts.

8. Web services: They are software systems that make it easier for different systems to communicate with one another automatically in order to pass information or conduct transactions. For example, a retailer and supplier might use Web services to communicate over the Internet and automatically update each other’s inventory systems.

9. Wikis, such as Wikipedia: They are systems for collaborative publishing. They allow many authors to contribute to an online document or discussion.

Internet surfers would recognise these applications as many of them are now actively used among journalists, hobbyists, and online communities. Their widespread use has drawn the attention of the business sector for Web 2.0 to be recognised as an effective platform of business transactions, internal communication and customer relations. Companies say they are using Web 2.0 technologies to communicate with customers and business partners and to encourage collaboration inside the company, resulting in better communication and tighter integration with suppliers. Most companies are using web services, peer-to-peer networking, collective intelligence, RSS (Really Simple Syndication), and social networking. They are using the technologies to help manage knowledge internally and are interested in technologies for automation and collaboration.

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