Web 2.0 and the coming enterprise disruption

A revolution is underway and the underlying disruption is called Web 2.0. OK, I know this is hardly novel thinking these days for some of us. However, as it pertains to how enterprises communicate and interact with their various constituency groups – from customers to investors to even employees – Web 2.0 will change just about everything.

In fact, a new, yet hardly creative term exists for Web 2.0 as it pertains to companies …. yep, it’s called “Enterprise 2.0“. Don’t let the lack of creativity fool you though; whatever it is called, Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 are big and the opportunty to be had by embracing this new wave is equally large.

History tells us that as a new medium comes to the fore (e.g. radio to TV), the first uses of the new medium tend to represent the old. Examples include early TV broadcasts of people simply talking as if they were still on the radio.

We saw this with Web 1.0. The use of the page metaphor to represent Web content – the “Web page” – should convince you that the Web was simply used as a new brochure for companies to present their image and information. The metaphors continued – catalogs, classified ads, etc. With all of the talk of true disruption of companies and industries back in the late nineties, we all know the hype cycle got ahead of itself and the dot-bomb implosion occured.

So, why is Web 2.0 different now? The reason is simple – the uses of the medium of the Web are finally leveraging its unique characteristics. Without going into a diatribe on the various technologies and protocols available in Web 2.0, think about how consumers are leveraging the Web now and if they could ever do these things before the Web and Web 2.0 existed. Examples include podcasting, individuals as influential publishers (i.e. bloggers), interactive social networks in the millions (e.g. My Space), and the list goes on.

What’s more, we all know the Web is more than just a new medium. It has the potential to be THE medium. It can do audio, video, text, images, messaging of all kind, and do it in real-time or asynchronously, across the world for next to no cost. Yes, it slices, it dices ….

What does this mean for companies? In short, everything. If ignored, a company can quickly get left behind by its competitors. If embraced, it can lead to great rewards and market leadership.

Let’s start with the blogosphere and other user generated content, and the implications on the corporate brand and its overall messaging. In a Web 1.0 world, the company simply put up a web page and, if relevant, a storefront catalog. We expected people to come to our site and plastered our ‘www.mycompany.com URL everywhere we could imagine. Companies applied old media approaches to the new Web medium.

With Web 2.0 the paradigm has shifted. The corporate presence is no longer managed at its website. And the corporate message is no longer effectively delivered and controlled by the marketing department through the Web and all of the traditional media vehicles.

The corporate presence is mashed up and global. It’s everywhere … on any blog, on any forum, and any other digital place in the Web 2.0 world. Furthermore, with enough attention, that corporate presence is transferred from the Web 2.0 world to the trusted old line media sources without the supervision or control of the company.

Scary stuff? Yes indeed.

Why am I writing about this? Because I believe an unprecedented opportunity exists for companies to seize the Web 2.0 opportunity to drive a huge amount of value. As part of that belief, I am co-founding Kalivo with a great team to provide services that enable companies to seize the Web 2.0 opportunity. On our site and around the Web 2.0 world, we will be eating our own dogfood. The content you see and subscribe to on kalivo.com, as well as the content you see from us participating around the Web will be generated from our software which is powering our overall corporate presence. Thus, we will showcase what any company can do with its presence on the Web every hour of every day. We firmly believe engaging in Web 2.0 will help us be closer to our customers, partners, and employees, and enable us to engender loyalty and create better products.

My goal with this blog is to host a discussion and bring to the forefront thought leadership on how companies can seize the Web 2.0 opportunity and engage in dialogs about the opportunities and challenges in this arena. This thought leadership will be a synthesis of our ideas at Kalivo, content from thought-leaders around the web, and the ensuing dicussions.

My blog is titled the “Listening Post“, which is intended to highlight the fundamental shift in corporate marketing from one-way messaging to two-way dialogs, and discuss how companies can leverage this shift to drive value. This shift is disruptive and empowering at the same time. Future market leaders will embrace it.

I look forward to the conversation and to navigating the Web 2.0 waters with other companies like us that are embracing it.

— brian