Six critical success factors to make Web 2.0 work


McKinsey Quarterly published an interesting article this month how companies can successfully use Web 2.0 tools. McKinsey has studied in the past two years the experiences of more than 50 early adopters of Web 2.0 tools in corporate organizations. The experiences are equally balanced between enthusiastic and dissatisfied. However, basis for success lies in the acceptance of the disruptive characteristic of Web 2.0 and the understanding how to create value with these tools.

Based on these results McKinsey has identified six critical success factors for the use of Web 2.0 technologies:

  1. The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top
    Web 2.0 projects depend on bottom-up involvement of people throughout the organization. However, involvement of senior management is paramount as they will act as role models that will encourage participation of the rest of the organization.
  2. The best uses come from users – but they require help to scale
    Successful use of new technologies depend on the involvement of the users in the development and implementation of it. Failure is at risk when management tries to dictate their preferred uses of the technologies used. Mckinsey’s research demonstrates that the applications that drive the most value through participatory technologies are often not those that were expected by management.
  3. What’s in the workflow is what gets used
    When developing Web 2.0 applications make sure that the users are able to create the time within their daily workflow to participate in these new collaborative initiatives. Initial enthusiasm will fade rapidly if users experience that participation is another add-on to their already crowded to-do lists.
  4. Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs – not just their wallets
    Financial incentives do not work in collaborative technologies. They create content, but of low quality. More effective is it to bolster the reputation of participants in relevant communities, rewarding enthusiasm, or acknowledging the quality and usefulness of contributions.
  5. The right solution comes from the right participants
    Be sure who to target. To select users that will have valuable contributions takes thorough preparation. Look across the borders of the traditional experts  but also involve other disciplines within the organization. If done correctly, it can create great benefits beyond expectations. Sales forecasts predicted by participants with a more diverse base in operational knowledge were more accurate than those of the company’s experts.
  6. Balance the top-down and self-management of risk
    Web 2.0 by definition is disruptive and stads for authenticity, open and free communication. these factors feed many companies with fear for these technologies. However, Web 2.0 is not equal to total anarchy and some control over the content produced is prudent in corporate environments. Some security functions can, and should, be installed, such as prohibiting anonymous posting. Ultimately, successful participation means engaging in authentic conversation with participants.

Acceptance of Web 2.0 tools in corporations is growing. Spenditure on Web 2.0 technologies is currently estimated at $1 billion by McKinsey, but in the coming five years an annual growth of 15% is expected, despite the current recession. I fully agree with this view. Even stronger, due to the unique characteristics of Web 2.0 (e.g. cost effective, participative, collabrative, very effective harvesting of tacit knowledge) it is the distinctive technology in times of economic downfall. After all, if one thing survives in a recession, it’s innovation. And Web 2.0 is such an innovative technology that makes the difference.

With thanks to Bram Fasseur of Marketingfacts who made me aware of this article.

4 Responses to Six critical success factors to make Web 2.0 work

  1. Sheridan says:

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