25th July 2007

What’s the most important web 2.0 feature to implement next?

Feeling overwhelmed?

Unless social computing is your full time day job (and night job too) it’s virtually impossible to keep up with (and make sense of) all the new developments around web 2.0.  I regularly get links to interesting implementations that other companies have done as ideas we should consider … or more directly questioning when we are going to do that!  On a recent best practices sharing tour to large companies implementing web 2.0 services I ended the day getting this question:  "What is the most important web 2.0 feature we should be implementing next?"

What a great question.  It got me thinking about all the people I had talked to in recent months and the common challenges, regardless of industry, that I heard at conferences, in peer discussions and within my own company.  I’ll follow up this post soon with some summary points on what the biggest pain points seem to be, but my answer to this question will give you a pretty good idea.

So, what’s the answer?  Simple (simple to say, not do).  The answer is none of the above.  The most important feature to implement in your web 2.0 strategy is integration with existing systems and processes.  Sad, this isn’t the funnest answer.  It’s not roll out a blogging strategy or a product wiki or an influencer program or a feedback management system or forums or …

It turns out that Web 2.0 projects are really not that hard to implement - getting to market quickly with a new service isn’t all that difficult and in many organizations there is a premium placed on shipping things that are very visible.  What I’ve seen is that the premium on speed and visibility drives most companies to leverage vendor / outsourced solutions for deployment.  It’s faster and easier than working with IT.  There’s also a budget issue here, vendor dollars are easier in most places than incremental IT expense.  This means you quickly end up with multiple suppliers and multiple platforms for your web 2.0 projects - all of which are sitting both organizationally and operationally outside your existing systems, processes and infrastructure.  This is a problem in user experience, in driving organizational culture change, and in measuring business impact.  Community works because you get critical mass, it’s easy to use and there is social proof or evidence of shared value in participation.  Do you have multiple points of authentication as your users move across your communities?  Does your reputation/recognition model transfer across properties?  Do you capture differing depth of profile data?  Is it evident why?  Is the user experience jarring from one venue to the next?  Is there a clear workflow for how the various touch points integrate? How discoverable are the assets?  How obvious is your org chart based on your online experience (this would be a bad sign, not good)?  On and on.

Now, let’s say you have all the web experiences integrated.  If you have, send me the url!!! I’d love to see the best practice at scale - please don’t send me threadless.  I love them, they are doing cool stuff, but let’s see a fortune 1000 company example - who should be the envy of the market?  If you have the web experiences integrated, I’m impressed and I’d love to come visit!  The next question is have you integrated these systems with traditional systems and processes (Call management, market research, product quality systems, customer service, CRM, brand monitoring, etc.)?  If you’ve done this, I’m not impressed, I’m blown away! 

Earlier I blogged about ROI and Web 2.0 as Business transformation.  I’m more convinced than ever that these are the critical issues to be addressed.  I’m curious what you think and hungry for great examples.

Reality check.  Utilizing 3rd party solutions, despite none of them having the full solution is still the right way to go.  Addressing process and systems integration issues is easier once you have data flowing - so I’d still advocate some deployment first (if you haven’t yet).  But, choose your vendors carefully.  Best in class silo solutions may not be as good as pretty good breadth of functionality solutions.  Professional services capacity is critical.

Love to know what you think.


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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2007 at 10:04 pm and is filed under Business Strategy, Social Media, web 2.0. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. 1 On July 28th, 2007, Lawrence Liu said:

    Yup, this is why most Web 2.0 companies will not have long term prospects within the enterprise. They are silos, and companies simply cannot support more than just a few key silos. Look at what has happened with DBMSs, ERP and CRM systems, personal and business productivity apps, software development platforms and tools, etc. Everyone wants integration, if not consolidation. Ultimately, a Social Computing Platform that is flexible and easy to integrate with oher systems will win within the enterprise. That’s why I’m so excited to be in the product group that I’m in. :-)

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