I had the pleasure of being invited by Hinchcliffe & Company to attend their Web 2.0 Executive Bootcamp as a guest VIP blogger. The session was a day-long interactive session all about Web 2.0 – including education on all of the aspects of Web 2.0, as well as examples of innovators and discussions about implications and applications for personal and business use.
The day was organized around Hinchcliffe’s Seven Principles of Web 2.0. I could, and probably will, write an entire blog post on my interpretation of each of these Principles. For now, I will focus on making this a synthesis of the event and highly recommend that anyone interested in Web 2.0 attend one of these bootcamps. If you find this post interesting and useful, the bootcamp should be worth your time … of course, the constant changing nature of Web 2.0 will ensure everything is fresh and new, so this is pre-reading.
I think the course can actually appeal to both those that are Web 2.0 neophytes as well as to those that are in the early adopter camp, which is where I’d put myself. The Seven Principles are a good organizing framework for Web 2.0, and each explodes out into a web of interesting implications and opportunities for enterprises looking to leverage Web 2.0. For heavy Web 2.0 adopters, there will be some very familiar territory covered (e.g. what is a wiki, blog, etc. and how to set up), however, the content was delivered in such a way that if you were already at a high level of understanding, the content allows you to think at the next level for each of the Seven Principles.
Below is a list of the Seven Principles and some of the salient points that I thought came out of our discussion on each:
- Web as Platform
- Services beyond a single device
- Data is the competitive advantage
- Lightweight programming and business model
- Rich user experiences
- Harnessing collective intelligence
- Leveraging the Long Tail
This one seems to speak for itself. The premise is that the Web is becoming the primary location for our applications and data. The difference this time is the network effects are far stronger than on the PC or Client/Server platform. With a global audience of over 1 Billion people using the Web, and the application of Reid’s Law – each new human node in the network increases the network’s value exponentially, this new platform is immensely more valuable for all users. We had a fairly deep discussion of the impact of these network effects and the opportunities. Case example – with services such as Amazon’s S3 in the cloud, what is the impact on M&A for new startups? If a startup can get reliable storage services for $0.15 or less per Gigabyte and the service scales, then the need to sell to a larger company to support its growth diminishes. Now extrapolate that to a series of viable services that scale, are reliable, and are cost-effective … the potential to innovate up the stack appears to grow massively.
The core argument here is the combination of the sheer number of mobile devices and their ability to connect to the Web at high speeds. With over 2 Billion handsets about to be sold this year, and a growing number with robust web browsers and flash in the browser, the ability to leverage the web while mobile will increase substantially. Add on to that the use of SMS and RSS integrated with web services, and the mobile device is now intricately tied to the web. Outside the US in fact, the mobile phone is becoming (or may be) the preferred (or most frequently used) way to access the web. Services that appeal to younger web users seems to be leading the charge here … Facebook and its use of SMS is a prime example … Google also has great mobile services for Gmail and Reader. The Blogging Contribution Chain [hmm … the notion of a “Contribution Chain” is interesting in the context of Web 2.0 services – this should be studied, though I’m sure it has been … if not, I’d like credit for the term please!] was highlighted as an example in the bootcamp. Bloggers can post from multiple places, including Mobile phones. Also, with RSS, the blog posts can be read while mobile (mobile RSS reader or Google’s mobile Reader).
This is the topic of data as the new “Intel inside”. As people come to a web service and participate, they are contributing data – intention data (clicks), personal data, new content, ratings, etc. Web services that are the first to aggregate interesting and useful data establish a clear leadership position and a high barrier to entry for competition. Witness Google and its search index capability due to page rank data, Amazon and product reviews, Craigslist and classifieds. We discussed opportunity areas where new companies can be formed around this notion of data as the competitive advantage.
A core part of Web 2.0 is being agile, nimble, quick, and collaborative. This is all achieved with a lightweight programming and business model. Gone are the days of long software development lifecycle. Web 2.0 work is done with speed to market and speed to adoption in mind. This requires more agile methodologies, a perpetual beta product, shorter release cycles. It also involves a shift in design patterns. Hinchcliffe and Company highlights a number of Web 2.0 mantras, and at least one came out in this section, namely “Web 2.0 is not about push, it’s about pull.” A fundamental tenet of Web 2.0 from a design perspective is putting the person at the center of your service – they’re in charge. As such, we discussed the Architecture of Participation extensively, including how to create one and some components that are required in order to create one – being open in design and using the simplest standards to get the job done. The information in this area was quite rich
Staying on the topic of ‘rich’, we transitioned into the principle of creating rich user experiences and how to do that. This discussion included an overview of the main Rich Internet Application tools available today – Ajax, Flash/Flex, and now SilverLight from Microsoft. Despite my initial read on SilverLight, it actually sounds more powerful than I originally believed. We reviewed the basic positives and negatives of each, and the notion of the proprietary plug-ins required to run Flash and SilverLight applications vs. the openness of Ajax. Also discussed was the current complexity of Ajax due to the myriad toolsets available and thus lack of productivity. We closed with a good discussion on Widgets – the notion of being able to create functional chunks of application capability that can be distributed across the web and embedded in remote websites – examples include Google AdSense, and YouTube. In fact, it was interesting that a lot of YouTube’s early viral success was because it was easy to embed video clips in MySpace pages to share with that powerful social network. For a good look at widgetization of the web, check out WidgetBox.
Hinchcliffe states that this principle is tied tightly to the third principle, “Data is the competitive advantage”. We returned to a core principle of Web 2.0, namely that “it is about the people”. A paradigm shift is required to truly understand this and create a valuable Web 2.0 service – need to recognize that the people that come to use your service are “partners”, and their use and contributions make the service more valuable. These partners increase the value of the service through their contributions and their intention data that is contributed through their usage, not to mention their referrals and word of mouth that enable exponential growth. Services need to be sure to empower the users to improve the service. Some interesting and some now familiar examples were discussed (the Chevy Tahoe design your own ad campaign). An interesting one was XM Radio’s 20 on 20 campaign, which allowed users to design the programming for Channel 20. In a Digg-like rating fashion, users were responsible for the top 20 songs for Channel 20. Ratings for Channel 20 on XM rocketed up from the basement to being consistently among the Top 3 XM channels. We also discussed collective intelligence as a core enabler and component of social networks, blogs and Wikipedia.
I had to leave at this stage to catch a flight and get back to work on the Next Generation Enterprise revolution. Information on this Principle can be found on the Web from Dion Hinchcliffe’s writing, as well as their corporate site, and other bloggers who have written about Hinchcliffe’s work.
Overall, this bootcamp was a rich discussion of Web 2.0 and the core principles discussion was also followed by other items such as a discussion of Enterprise 2.0. Very thought provoking information, and a good framework for thinking about the complexity and overall opportunity of Web 2.0.
I’m now going to think a bit about this notion of a “Contribution Chain” as part of Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 services. If people are at the core of Web 2.0 services, data is the core competitive advantage, and harnessing collective intelligence is key, then knowing how the Contribution Chain works is vital to Web 2.0 service design, growth and scalability. Though, Chain may be too rigid … may need to think about “Contribution Webs” or “Contribution Ecosystems” or “Contribution Networks”.