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.