The Relevance of Web 2.0 Debated?….Hmm

ITWeb ran an article this week about Web 2.0 in which Internet Solutions’ Web 2.0 product specialist Jeff Fletcher drops a clanger:

However, for a bank there may be less relevance,especially the community aspects. Looking back over the past 15 years, those companies that did not embrace the community aspects of the Internet because they felt it was not particularly relevant to them have not done better or worse than those that did,” he says.’

Wow. Well – lets go through this comment.

  1. for a bank there may be less relevance, especially the community aspects’
    • Organisations like banks should be the first to engage with their customers. They are notorious for bad customer service and being aloof.
    • They are the ones that sprout the marketing fluff like:

    • Each one of these statements include a desperate plea to get involved with their customer base. What better way than community involvement and engagement in the online world – and for South Africa in particular, the mobile web.
    • All of these banks are courting small business. They know that this is where a significant portion of their growth will come from in the next 5-10 years.
      • If any of the big 4 banks had a strong entrepreneurial ‘hub’ that included business-related blogs and podcasts, social networking services between their business customers, rating and ranking of ideas – then their small business and entrepreneur customers could benefit greatly.
    • Use community involvement in product development and improvement. Remember Jeff – as we all know – no-one is as clever as everyone.
    • Each of the banks have youth brands, products and services. What better way to connect and engage with this group than through a community based offering. What do the youth want? Friends, music, parties – and money. Cue the banks.
      • What better way to introduce the youth to internet, WAP and mobile banking than through a great youth community site – in which they help each other.
  2. ‘Looking back over the past 15 years,those companies that did not embrace the community aspects of the
    Internet’

    • 15 years…of the internet. Hmm. Sorry Jeff. Its only really been a commercial reality since about 1994-5.
    • Secondly – that exactly the point – the new community-type offerings on the internet are only now becoming more relevant because of shifts in things like:
      • vastly improved usability
      • decent bandwidth
      • sufficient internet users in South Africa (now over 4 million)
      • the advent of Firefox and its community type Extensions
      • new technology (AJAX and Co.) that enables nifty functionality like the Digg.com Digg It.
      • open source and free, easy-to-use platforms like the WordPress and Blogger platforms.
  3. ‘those companies that did not embrace the community aspects of the Internet because they felt it was not particularly relevant to them have not done better or worse than those that did’
    • Cue the band. The above statement is probably the worst reason not to embrace the new web, the new rules of customer engagement, the new world of immersion. It smacks of – no-one reached the stars, so lets not even aim in that direction.
    • I can’t help but think that this comment is not just a smokescreen from IS. Is it really possible that their Web 2.0 Product Specialist could really think this way. Maybe this is their way of saying – ‘please will anyone with good ideas stay away from the banks because we would really like them as our customers, and we really need some time to think about this a little more.’

This is my response to the article on the ITWeb site in their comments section.

[11 Dec 2006] Angus Robinson:
You`re missing the point if you question its relevance

There may be hype around Web 2.0, but that`s not the issue.

Call it anything you like – Web 1.5, TheNEWInternet, WebNet3, NewWeb, etc – it doesn`t matter. The point is – things on the internet are changing.

Tools like AJAX, RSS, Ruby on Rails, etc are just making it a whole lot easier to apply the new way of thinking – they are a means to an end, not the end itself.

Companies that embrace the change can do exponentially better than those who choose to ignore it.

The power of the social web, the mobile web, communities, collaboration, blogs and podcasts, content syndication and the web as a platform for services is only just being understood and adopted. Its very early days – especially in South Africa.

My advice – understand the changes, understand the potential impact on your business and embrace it. From the Cluetrain Manifesto – `markets are conversations`. Understand this and you are on your way.

I hope this post stirs some healthy debate. Jeff – if you are out there, we need to talk. Maybe its merely a case of a journo misquoting you. Hope so.

powered by performancing firefox

3 responses to “The Relevance of Web 2.0 Debated?….Hmm

  1. Pingback: The Relevance of Web 2.0 Debated - Part 2 « Goozeberry: A Blog for the Future·

  2. Pingback: SA Banks Just Don’t Get It | Mike Stopforth·

  3. It’s nice to see that someone actually reads the whole IT web articles 🙂 I agree with some of what you say. Not all though:

    So to respond to your 3 points:
    1 – Engaging with your customers online is different to actively supporting social networking and blogging. The banks use the net and the web reasonably effectively to communicate and engage with their higher LSM customers. But there is no need for any of them to start a blog aggregation site or a competitor to Digg to build a community. Most banking customers want an easy interaction to do banking, and don’t need to feel part of a banking community. Banking is not a social activity.

    2 – I have had and email address for over 15 years now, and my bank is still going. WordPress, blogger, firefox extensions and digg.com have no relevance to the profitability of the 4 major banks. In future the bank that embraces these new technologies may find it easier to attract new customers. If someone is spending the evening managing their Facebook profile and not watching TV, then you have to advertise to them on Facebook. But right now banking customers still watch TV.

    3 – Banking is a great example of mega corporations operating obliviously to the trends and still surviving. 20Twenty tried the web savvy bank approach and failed, mostly out of customer apathy. A small fraction of the market care enough to make a noise, the rest simply choose based on the last advert they saw.

    My original comments were based on what exists at moment though. As more people get online and use the net/web/web2.0 to make more informed decisions, the banking marketing machines could begin to fail unless the banks can understand how to market online effectively. Unfortunately this means the marketing half truths will just move to a different medium. I think if all 4 banks used the web properly to engage customers, people would still be unhappy with the service.

    Where we stand today Web 2.0 is not having any impact on the profitability of the 4 major banks.

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