So how was Berlin?

Just got back from my trip to Berlin. I look back to a fullfilling Web 2.0 Expo. Although not all presentations were equally interesting (that is virtually impossible) and the expo floor was not too exciting, I did gain more insights in some of the Web 2.0 areas where we as a company want to develop ourselves more. I was especially pleased to see that there are many companies providing full-fledged solutions for enterprise-wide social media platforms (blogging, wikis, Facebooks, etc). I do not know which will survive the next 5 years but I sure hope some do.

One of the most professional looking platforms was the ClearSpace platform from Jive. They have some well-known customers using their software such as Nike and Apple (Apple’s support forum runs ClearSpace ans is saving them a lot of phone calls from customers). Intruiging about their platform is that it seems very user-friendly, very important in a time where the risk of a techno-division between the technofoobs and technophiles is imminent (but don’t stereotype; at the airport where I’m writing this post I’m looking at a 70-something year old man wearing white earbuds enjoying the songs on his iPhone).

We are now checking how we can acquire their software for testing purposes. I’m especially interested to see if we can use their platform for our ‘Klant 2.0’-project (no, I won’t reveal anything else, in contrast to the Web 2.0 philosophy). We are also awaiting more information about TamTamy and we have been invited to drop by the office of Telligent in Amsterdam to share some thoughts. Interesting to see that also ‘Big Blue’ is pretty active in the Social Software space, as can be seen here:

With 500,000 employees of which 50% is outside ‘somewhere’ they have understood the benefits of collaborative platforms well. They now sell their platforms now to other interested parties.

The ever present question: what’s in it for business remains valid also now. Many companies are sensibilized by the obvious possibilities of social networks, yet not many know how to monetize them. Especially in the field of pharma, one of our main customer groups, it seems extremely difficult to actually materialize such an idea. What are the risks involved? What can we do from a compliance point of view? For monetizing social networks I refer to a recent blogpost on Marketingfacts.nl from Erwin Blom in which he describes 5 monetization models:

 

  1. Advertisements
  2. Sponsoring
  3. Premium accounts
  4. Data
  5. Decreasing costs

 

 

OK, so may be the use of social networks for external use is a bit tricky (yet not impossible, as Tim O’Reilly would say), the use of these platforms internally is really a no-brainer. It is sometimes frustrating to see so clearly where the future in business in relation to collaboration goes. And yet corporate politics and inflexible IT-related ‘gurus’ higher in the foodchain sometimes hinder the use of these new technologies. These are the same people who fulminated against the use of internet at the workplace 5 years ago and still block YouTube from a ‘normal’ employee’s desktop computer (and guess what, most of these people have opened up YouTube for themselves…). 

I am so convinced that we enter a new era of collaboration in business. Increasing fuel prices, awareness of our carbon footprint, the rise of new technologies and the coming of the ‘Generation Y-ers’ in companies will push the entrance into this new era forward. Innovation must come from many places, so not only from inside the company (and in this case I mean literally inside – physically between the four walls of the company) but more and more from outside. Of course outside from our customers but huge multinational companies should first start by looking ‘outside’ their physical walls. What kind of great ideas are laying around in corners at local company level? What great internal inventions are collecting dust somewhere, someplace because nobody has noticed them? We need to push the boundaries of our current way we work, share, collaborate and explore the possibilities of Enterprise 2.0. We need people, employees who believe in that, and who want to start experimenting. Because you are not alone, looking at a recent study performed by McKinsey:

(Graph courtesy of McKinsey)

By the way, a very interesting survey about the use of Web 2.0 technologies in business, which can be found here.

And exciting times lie ahead. On my return trip I was sharing a taxi with a guy from a major creditcard company. He was responsible for the technological development of the data architecture. When he started four years ago the company had 2.6 pentabyte (that is 2.600 terabytes, which is 2.600.000 gigabytes, which is 2.600.000.000 megabytes) of transaction-data. They want to do more with the huge amount of data they collect. They want to couple it to location-based services such as for example Aka’Aki. Imagine a world in which you just bought a Levis jeans. You paid with your credit card, so the company knows that. You walk around down town, and a Levis store is around the corner. Since ‘the Cloud’ knows you are open for Levis stuff the Levis store around the corner (who receives data from the credit card company) can send you a message with Levis-related promotions. Obviously this would only work if you have opted-in to receive such information, but imagine a world where you would only receive information targeted to your needs (no more commercials of tampons during dinner time). I would opt-in.

Having said that, privacy remains an issue in these cases so it was good that there was at least one lecture about this during the Web 2.0 Expo. For example, who is responsible when a girl commits suicide when she is dumped publicitely through MySpace by her so-called boyfriend who she never met in real life but in reality was the mother of her previous boyfriend who she dumped before? (depending on your intelligence you may have to read that sentence a few times more). MySpace? Whose data in Wikipedia is it anyway? Is that MediaWiki, the underlying company which owns Wikipedia? Or is the data owned by you?

Many questions still need to be answered in this legally misty Web 2.0. Let’s hope the mist condenses to a cloud and dissappears high in the sky, where it belongs.

See all presentations of the Web 2.0 Expo here.

Our interview with Tim O’Reilly

Will the financial crisis lead to the end of Web 2.0? Daniel Lyons already uses the term ‘Web-Two-Dot-Over’. “Nonsense”, says Tim O’Reilly at the first keynote of the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin. “These are difficult times for start-up companies who need financial support from Venture Capitalists (VC), but that has nothing to do with the trends and opportunities which are still there for Web 2.0.”

“These are uncertain times and we do not know what the future will bring us, but has that been different in the past?”, says Tim to a crowded audience. Such a crisis is a good moment to seperate the ‘winners’ from the ‘losers’. Obviously, the winners will survive. Important for surviving are Tim’s ‘Robust Strategies’:

 

Robust Strategy 1 – Working On Stuff That Matters

So the question is: what matters? Still there are many problems asking for a solution: climate change, governments not listening. And what about the recent financial crisis? So what to do? Simple, make sure to master the problem and make the impossible possible. Yeah sure, you might think. Tim draws the comparison with the Berlin Airlift. Impossible, so the Russians thought. But 2.3 tonnes airfreight, 278,228 flights and 148 million of flown kilometers (that’s from here to the sun) and 322 days later proved the impossible possible. Today it’s not different: “great challenges bring great opportunities”.

And Web 2.0 offers unsurpassed possibilities. Tim mentions Ushahidi, Everyblock, Benetech and 23andme as examples of cloud computing, open source and mash-ups.


Robust Strategy 2 – Create More Value Than You Capture

Dare to think big. Have a vision. “Look at Microsoft. Such a great vision: a computer on every desktop and in every home”. That makes a company big and successful. And be honest, they did change they way we work and communicate. And again the value of Web 2.0 is to create value not only for yourself but especially for others (social media, remember?). Tim’s take home message: “Tackling big problems will not only make you great, but it will also make the world great”.

(Picture courtesy of MikiMedia)

 

At the beginning of the keynote I thought it was going to be a pretty depressing story, but actually what he told was just common sense – fortunately still prevailing in 2008. If you have an idea, believe in it, think big and act. The beauty of all these Web 2.0 technologies in my view is that you can create an enormous audience. And with that an enormous power, financial crisis or not.

 

See Tim’s presentation here:

Our first day at Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin

The European Web 2.0 congress by O’Reilly has started. After San Francisco and New York now beautiful Berlin is the place to be if you are anything close to a Web 2.0 geek. In the Berliner Congress Center hundreds of people come together to be part of a three day plethora of sessions, workshops, keynotes and networking events.

So is DigiRedo.

So what’s happening over there? Next to a way too small expo floor (last year much, much bigger) one can participate in workshops. Four different streams are available, all with a different focus on Web 2.0: Strategy & Business Models, Marketing & Community, Design & User Experience and Development. We are particularly interested in Strategy & Business Models, hence my first workshop was about ‘Building Successful Next Generation Web 2.0 Applications’, presented by Dion Hinchcliffe. Nice to know is that Dion is founder of the Web 2.0 University (didn’t know it exists). The titel of his presentation did not cover the content entirely. He went much deeper than only applications. Dion gave a rather comprehensive overview of Web 2.0 with some illustrative models.

Some relevant ‘take home messages’ from his presentation:

  • A recent ‘discovery’ from David P. Reed (he did a lot of research on networks) revealed that social networks are the most important aspect in the modern internet economy. As any good researcher does, the discovry is now known as ‘Reed’s Law’.
  • One of the Core Competencies a company should have when developing applications for Web 2.0 is to ensure control over unique, difficult to recreate information which becomes more valuable as more people use it. Yeah, made me think too but I guess the value of Facebook is a nice example of what he means by this statement.
  • A nice twitch to look at Web 2.0: See data as the new ‘Intel Inside’. In other words, it’s about data, data and data. And do something useful with it is a good idea too 😉

Yet another interesting development we saw here is the rise of companies providing platforms for enterprises such as Facebook and Bebo (social networks). So we have seen a presentation from TamTamy and have spoken to Jive. Also Yoolink offers comparable solutions, all which for the untrained eye do not differ too much.

Although SharePoint should give an answer to the ever increasing need for employees to collaborate online within their company, in many cases the usability of SharePoint does not quite meet the modern requirements of Web 2.0 user interfaces. Trust us, we have first hand experiences. Above mentioned companies do not only provide more user-friendly interfaces, but are specifically designed to establish communities internally. Personally we believe strongly in these platforms. Let’s face it, companies ARE communities and the time that employees accepted a plain screen with name, phone number and e-mail in Outlook’s Address Book are sooo over. Especially new employees (also known as the Millenials or the Generation Y-ers) have frown up with all the possibilities Facebook, wikipedia, blogging and techniques alike can offer. They now expect the same environment from their employers. Is your company ready for it?

There’s much more to share (for example, we were able to do a video interview with Tim O’Reilly himself) so stay tuned…

(Picture courtesy of MikiMedia)

DigiRedo does Web 2.0 in Berlin

Today we’re heading to Berlin, where one of the largest Web 2.0 conferences in the world. O’Reilly (yes, he did come up with the term ‘Web 2.0’) is the producer of this event, of which the last one was in San Fransisco.

It certainly promises to be a very interesting congress, with lots and lots of key speakers in the arena of New Media. There is a multi-track conference, high level keynote speakers, and expo, workshops and many networking events. 

Check out more about the event here

We’ll be covering the happenings on the Web 2.0 with blogposts and videos. Check back later!

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