Friday, October 23, 2009

Is Web 2.0 Over for Internal Use?

There’s been some tweeting lately about a recent Watson Wyatt Web 2.0 survey published in May. The odd thing about the report is that the headline "Web 2.0 Initiatives Continue to Gain Acceptance at Companies, Watson Wyatt Survey Finds" and the PR spin don’t accurately represent the research findings.

The piece begins, “Despite their relative newness, companies are embracing Web 2.0 technologies such as social networking tools, blogs and webcasts for internal communications and as part of their overall technology mix, according to a new survey by Watson Wyatt, a leading global consulting firm.”

However, looking closely at the research, you’ll see that this is not necessarily the case. The survey actually finds that top technologies mentioned in terms of increase usage in the downturn are all Web 1.0 tools; Intranet, email, and webcasts. Why? Because people revert back to things they know (safety and security) and move away from trying something new and unknown, especially if it requires time to learn.

As for Web 2.0, 13 % are planning to increase the use of social networking tools in the next 24 months, and 12% will increase the use of blogs for communications. We’ve all seen the low numbers before, in fact it’s very similar to the research we did last year and we’ve all said “give it time, it’s new, it will take time to take hold, etc.” We also found that only 12% of marketing budgets were allocated towards Web 2.0 tools. 

The problem now is that those numbers aren’t moving up, and reducing costs (click for a good free McKinsey Economic report, see slide on pg. 4) is the number one issue on CEO’s minds.

Companies adopting Web 2.0 technologies in overall technology mix

The most eye opening slap of reality is that 60%+ of firms say they are not planning to use/implement the following over the next 2 years; Social Networks, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, RSS feeds…all Web 2.0 tools. Again, the research was focused on the use of these technologies internally.

The important learning to take away from this is that it’s now time to start looking at the data for what it is really saying. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m big fan and want to believe in the potential of Web 2.0, but it’s time for reality check. If we are going to be successful as marketers we have to start proving the business case for these tools…and back it up with data.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Is B2B Web 2.0 Over Before It Ever Started?

Not yet, but it’s getting close. The potential suspects in its death…the recession, the CFO and the Legal Department.

Suddenly, every legal department around the country has become the de facto Web 2.0 governance committee. What doesn’t get killed, modified, or mangled is left to the CFO to cut. Senior executives, who for the most part lack an understanding of the tools, are growing tired of all the noise around Digital, Web 2.0, Social Media, etc. 

They are now directing their organizations back to what they believe to be proven strategies (as they say in the FS industry "past performance is not indicatve of future results) and tactics (core products, best customers and traditional sales & marketing tactics, like DM). It’s back to the future.

You’re mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find proven “sweetspots” for Web 2.0 in your organization now…and put it in your 2010 plan.  Here are a few “no brainers” and/or proven areas that have shown to be impactful and/or demonstrate measurable value:

  • Twitter - customer services applications, awareness building for events, new content, etc….no brainers

  • Blogs – thought leadership, using them to help explain applications of products, credibility and audience builders…all winners and measurable.

  • VODcast – similar to blogs, keep them short and on point, and work on getting the cost down. 

  • Wiki’s – defining internal nomenclature, taxonomy, and knowledge management all winners and well worth the effort.

As for social networks, I have a few thoughts that I’ll share in my next post. Here’s a preview.

Recently I met with David Godes, a professor at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. David and I got together to discuss our shared interest in sales processes, sales & marketing integration and social networks (we first meet when he was an associate professor at Harvard Business School, after he wrote a case study on the work we did with Avaya on managing integrated sales and marketing pipelines).

David and a colleague wrote an article published in the Harvard Business Review in 2006 on Sales Networks.  After reading the article several times, I think it’s a useful guide for leveraging Social Networking tools to enable the sales forces. Although the study of social networks has been around for years, and it served for the development of social networking tools, the application for sales hasn’t really been developed. I believe this holds tremendous opportunity to discover “killer applications” for social media tools.

For now, think about this, the first wave of Web innovation (Web 1.0) was followed by a recession ( bust) that separated the “winners” from the “losers”.  Successful technology innovations need a “killer app” to take hold. Often times it is very different from what the technology was originally designed to do (Myspace, as an example). We are now making our way (hopefully…and slowly) out of a recession that was preceded by the second wave of web innovation…what “killer applications” have you discovered - are they sustainable, and can you defend your investment in them going forward?

Do it quickly…time is running out.   As Tim Washer said at the B2B Social Communication when asked about IBM's very funny video series "The Art of the Sale"; “things have changed in our social media governance and policies. I don’t think I could do this again given the current environment.”