Maximising the value of the Web for you and your business – Part 1

 

There’s no doubt that the Internet has revolutionised the way we conduct both our business and our social lives and, to some degree, has merged the two.

But how can you maximise the benefit of this revolution to your business?

About 30 years ago a very clever bloke called Michael E Porter of Harvard Business School proposed his 5 Forces to describe the marketplace and strategy of an organisation and it became essential reading for anyone doing an MBA. 

I don’t intend to regurgitate his work here, but it is worth a read for anyone who can’t be bothered to go back to school for a couple of years (at significant expense) to end up with an extra set of letters after their name.

The bottom line is that the Internet and “Web 2.0” have changed the rules again and have given just about anyone the ability to manipulate these forces for their personal benefit and allow them to compete with the “big boys”.  What’s even more exciting is that it’s still early days and there’s much, much more to follow in the coming weeks, months and years.

How is it changing what we do day-to-day.........?

Ask yourself one question – why have Google decided to enter the handset market for cell-phones, with their own operating system, “Android”?

The reason is simple – we now want access to information wherever we are, whenever we need it, in real-time.  Just months ago, most of us were happy to print a map out and find our way to our chosen destination using our wits, instincts and intellect.  Now a large chunk of the population rely on GPS or other portable mapping/guidance technologies....... we want it NOW and we want it RIGHT and we’re not prepared to wait, so we are prepared to pay for a solution.

The same thing is happening in every corner of the Web – look at the success of sites like Wikipedia and Google and many, many others.  Even when we’re sat at home working or surfing, we’re in touch with friends, family and colleagues via the likes of Facebook, Twitter,LinkedIn.  We’re updating our status, sending messages, forwarding interesting articles to friends, having articles forwarded to us, etc.

Inevitably, we now want even more – we want this information tailored to our personal needs and this is why the phrase “Web 3.0” is being used, because it’s no longer about wading through vast amounts of irrelevant stuff, out there in cyberspace, to find the nugget of pure gold we are looking for, we want it to be delivered to us all sifted and sorted and ready to go.  Sites are now being launched that allow you to search for items by submitting photographs and bespoke vertical search engines that will find that boutique hotel in Rome.

A very bright lady called Sramana Mitra proposed the theory on her blog that

“Web 3.0 = (4C + P + VS) + Place

In other words, it’s about Content, Commerce, Community & Context (4C) + Personalisation (P) + Vertical Search (VS)

  

In my view, she’s absolutely right and I recommend that you read her articles on this and many other subjects!

What reinforces this is that devices like the Google G1, the Apple iPhone and others (including 3G enabled laptops) make all of this possible in real-time, irrespective of where you are – the Place and that was the bit that was missing until the devices became available and the Mobile networks delivered speeds that made it feasible to do this.

In terms of the mobile networks, we’re also at the start of a revolution, but that’s for another day – watch this space!!

Things that are now (or soon will be) possible:

  • ·         Software as a Service “SaaS” from pretty-much any place, any time, anywhere (as the old Martini advert used to say).
  • ·         Virtualisation in the data-centres, as a result of SaaS, saving money, cutting emissions, improving security (?!)
  • ·         High-value information filtered from the flotsam and jetsam of the web in real-time.
  • ·         Context sensitive, personalised results, special offers, delivered when convenient
  • ·         True monetization of many aspects of the web through perfectly targeted relevant advertising

We’re just starting to toy with the edges of this now, but if the speed of change over the last couple of years has shocked you, just wait for what the next 2-5 years will bring you!

Porter’s 5 Forces are going to be delivered, gift wrapped into your hands, for you to use as you see fit  - whether you're promoting your services/products, or trying to buy somebody else's and the traditional power will rapidly move away from the big brands and if the financial upheaval of the second half of 2008 shook you and made you wonder "What next?", then wait until the pendulum starts to swing back again.......... it’s going to be awesome!

In upcoming articles, we’ll explore how you can empower yourself to take advantage of all this change and make it work for you.