Monday, October 29, 2007

Nine e-Business 2.0 examples

I researched nine Dutch (e-Business 2.0) cases, that were selected from companies listed in the Dutch Web 2.0 Awards that was held in January 2006; over 50.000 people could nominate and select Web 2.0 initiatives. Very interesting companies to have a look at:

1. Wakoopa

Wakoopa is a social network site for software. People can track what kind of software they use and share it with others and find (better) applications. With Wakoopa users acquire information on what software they use and can share software and opinions. The real value that is created using this site is the sharing experience users get when they share software and (new) applications. Wakoopa has made a platform and tracker to use for this site . The technique is only one part of Wakoopa’s function. The other part is the community platform and the incentives to people to contribute on the platform. Wakoopa is not only a creator of the technology and facilitator of the platform, but also a motivator and stimulator in a way it wants people to help collaborate by sharing experiences and knowledge.

2. Swoot

Swoot is an innovative leader in skinning and transforming web enabled applications for the desktop. Users can build their own browser and can participate in building a new website. There is a Swoot portal where all the developed browsers on many topics can be found, which can be accessed when people install a one time plug-in. Swoot offers a technology platform for, what they call, ‘ultimate freedom in design and marketing in a fun online experience.’ The idea is that everybody can create and control their own Internet browser, instead of using standard ones, like Firefox and Explorer .

3. Boomr

Boomr is ‘a platform where artists from all genres can share their music with everyone who has access to the internet.’ Boomr is also a place where people can get to know their favourite artists music and personal matters.

Value is created for the artists on Boomr by enabling a connection to exist with potential supporters and vice versa, value is created for the listener who is able to find music they like. Boomr is free to use and focuses on the non-familiar artists, as well. The value is created by users and artists who contribute and participate on the platform. There is an artist community and a user community. The user community is based on voluntary contributions, like reporters (enthusiastic fans of an artist) that write about concerts. Boomr’s artist and user communities are growing and are of significant value to this initiative and helps create a lock-in.

4. is part of the Buurtlink foundation and its goal is to increase social cohesion within the Netherlands and to become the largest district website based on zip codes. creates its own value by having a large base of active users. Neighbours can communicate on and can keep their own district website active and relevant. Since facilitating the platform alone is not enough, makes a distinction between ‘Buurtlinkers’ and users. A ‘Buurtlinker’ is an active user, like an ambassador or correspondent, and delivers content and promotes the website in the neighbourhood. This motivates neighbours to participate and in creating a stronger collaboration, gives incentives to ‘Buurtlinkers’ by yearly activities and free gadgets. Besides ‘Buurtlinkers’, there are users that live in the neighbourhood who can also participate and generate content on the platform. Everyone can give their opinion on the website or can talk/work together with their neighbours. The founders of try to deliver less content as possible on the platform; they have a facilitating and motivating task. Besides collaboration with the users of the website, works together with several partners. These partnerships can have local goals, but also national goals, like regional news stations, digital marketplaces, and local weather forecast agencies.

5. is a free service platform to easily save interesting web pages on the Internet. There are several features of the site that are new and related to Web 2.0 technologies. For example, users can make their own notes on the site while easily organizing results by tagging and can share favourite sites and topics with other users. The activities on the platform are also recognized as ‘social browsing’, which means social searching and sharing. There are several clusters of communities based on interest and tries to link people actively by giving recommendations. In this manner, people can collaborate to find more or better information on certain topics. is a subset of Winkwaves and is used as a marketing tool and as a playground to experiment. The actual value appropriation with these platforms is done by Winkwaves in a Business-to-Business context and relates more to Enterprise 2.0.

6. YelloYello

‘Traditional guides (in this research referred to as e-Business e.g. and do not answer questions like; where can I find a good plumber? What is the best lawyer in the district? As a user of this website, you often ask recommendations from friends and family.’ YelloYello is a company that fills this gap with help of Web 2.0 by ‘social local search’: YelloYello has local communities and is a social network and guide in one. Everyone can contribute easily by giving reviews, tagging, and upload locations. The company stimulates people to share experiences so the company can create a recommendation list of companies. The community and cluster aspect can be found in the case of YelloYello. The company focus is on places and people. Based on places and interest there are clusters of communities that contribute and add value for other users. The value is created by the users and is a combination of content and the social aspect of the website. Since the business information is already familiar, the new data contributed by the community adds new value.

7. Fleck

‘ wants to add a new layer of interactivity to the web by adding new tools that allows its users to add information rather than just consuming it. Fleck allows users to interact with pages on the web just as if it were pages in a magazine; People can save annotated page for own purposes, send it to friends or colleagues or use it in their blog.’

The value, appropriated on the platform by its users, is created by the users because data on top of the existing webpage is collected by a collaboration of internet users. When this data is aggregated correctly, new opportunities for value creation arise, but also appropriation may appear, for instance, more efficient search methods, recommendations, and suggestions on websites. Efficiency and complementarities are the most important drivers for Fleck. People use the platform and technology for several purposes, like bookmarking, communication, and page sharing. In the second half of 2007, Fleck will focus more on collaboration and the Long Tail by increasing the ‘discovery factor’. According to the founders of Fleck, there is a huge potential for collaboration with Fleck and it will become the most important driver. Fleck tries to enable knowledge sharing within the community. In this way people can efficiently use the information and knowledge other users contributed on websites. All these contributions on websites are collected in a database. Not only will the popular website be collected in this database, but also smaller and unfamiliar WebPages, referred to as the Long Tail, are collected. Fleck uses the collective intelligence to create value that is contributed by its users.

8. Hyves

Hyves is one of the most used e-Business 2.0 pure players in the Netherlands and is the most popular social network (Ruigrok|NetPanel 2007). The focus for Hyves is on establishing an online platform, in which people can (re)connect with each other, as they say: ‘Always in touch with your friends’. Users can share photos, videos, blogs, and recommendations, but the most added value for users of Hyves is to get reconnected with old friends (Ruigrok|NetPanel 2007). Hyves tries to be the place on the Internet where users share his or her information. Not only can you connect with people, but you can also collaborate and share by using a weblog or gadgets. Integration is also very important to Hyves, like importing an existing weblog on your Hyves page by Web 2.0 technology (RSS), which makes it easy and efficient for users to share. In the near future, Hyves is going to increase their use of AJAX-tools to integrate more easy-to-use applications to create increased value for it’s users.

9. Favr

Favr is ‘a website platform on which you can save and share your favourites, like websites and articles’. Users can review and recommend favourites in order to establish a top ranking of favourites.

The company wants to create a unique social bookmarking platform, that looks like Delicious, since interest is focused on website level. The community creates value and Favr’s role is an intermediary one by which it gives incentives and tools for users to contribute. The community decides what ranking certain websites and articles get and is not influenced by the company. The founder of Favr is also the founder of, that was sold successfully to Ilse Media in 2004 (Wiersma 2004), who started both companies as an experiment.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What do I mean with an e-Business 2.0?

This research adopts Forrester’s perspective on Web 2.0 (Koplowitz and Young 2007). It allows this research to clearly define the enabler aspect of Web 2.0 technologies that influence companies in e-Business, and allows a development of the concept ‘e-Business 2.0’. According to Forrester Research Inc., a renowned technology and market research company,

‘…Web 2.0 is a set of technologies and applications that enable efficient interaction among people, content, and data in support of collectively fostering new businesses, technology offerings, and social structures (Koplowitz and Young 2007).’

Koplowitz and Young (2007) point out that there are three lenses through which to view Web 2.0:

(i) Enabling technologies - provide the infrastructure and building blocks for Web 2.0 applications. These supporting technologies are often not as important for marketers, by a lack of knowledge of techniques like AJAX and XML (Derksen 2007a);

(ii) Core applications and features - enable people to efficiently interact with other people, as well as, content and data. Forrester Research Inc. calls this ‘social computing.’ Social computing refers to ‘easy connections brought about by cheap devices, modular content, and shared computing resources, that are having a profound impact on our global economy and social structure (Koplowitz and Young 2007)’;

(iii) Behavioural shifts - Core applications and features are fostering new social behaviour, business models, and cultures.

Many writers and researchers use the term Web 2.0 as the next stage of the Internet and of e-Business. These researchers do not make a clear distinction between the technological enabler aspect and the social aspect. Introducing and developing a concept of e-Business 2.0 and having it implemented in the outmost circle of the figure helps provide a better overview and framework for this research.

e-Business 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0
Since the Internet bubble, Web 2.0 with its core applications and enabling technologies has become popular and successful influencing e-Business. Successful start-ups created a new area in e-Business where Web 2.0 was a key factor in creating value. The focus in this research is on these companies that embrace Web 2.0 enabling technologies and core applications that cause a behavioural shift (see the Figure). This research, therefore, develops in scientific literature, the concept of e-Business 2.0 where e-Business companies are actively using Web 2.0 to create and appropriate value from, for, and with stakeholders. Although ‘e-Business 2.0’ is used in a book from Robinson et al. (1999), the meaning is different. A perspective of van der Sleen (2007) who refers to contact with customers and suppliers, is more related. However, scientific theory on Web 2.0, let alone e-Business 2.0, is scarce.

As can be seen in the figure, this research also makes a distinction between an internal and external focus. This research looks at e-Business 2.0 and has an external focus. e-Business 2.0 pure players depend on Web 2.0 to create and appropriate value with a focus to external customers, instead of internal organisations. The latter focus is called ‘Enterprise 2.0’ and is introduced by McAfee (2006a). McAfee (2006a: 23) argues that ‘there is a new wave of business communication tools including blogs, wikis and group messaging. There are new digital platforms for generating, sharing and refining information that are already popular on the Internet. These platforms are collectively labelled Web 2.0 technologies. The term ‘Enterprise 2.0’ focuses only on those platforms in which companies can buy or build in order to make the practices and outputs of their knowledgeable workers visible.’ Enterprise 2.0 looks at Web 2.0 technologies and practices within organisations and businesses and is therefore, referred to as internal focus. McAfee (2007: 52) simply and concisely defines Enterprise 2.0 as ‘the emerging use of Web 2.0 technologies like blogs and wikis within the Intranet’.

Next to e-Business 2.0 pure players, companies that acquire parts of e-Business 2.0 characteristics and regular e-Business (e.g. e-Commerce) companies are also active on the Internet. Larger companies can learn from these, often smaller, e-Business 2.0 companies who display themselves as early adopters (Rogers 1995) and use it to adopt to market changes and/or to Enterprise 2.0.

The concept of e-Business 2.0 highlights that e-Business is evolving. I argue that e-Business 2.0 is a part of e-Business and can also be referred to as a new stage in e-Business, that will become more prominent in the next few years. E-Business will adopt more e-Business 2.0 aspects and this is in correspondence with Van der Vlist et al. (2007), who argue that the e-Business and the Internet have reached a stage where its growth would slowly start to decline. Traditional media producers controlled the Internet and mergers and acquisitions signified that the Internet industry had started its consolidation phase. From a social perspective, the Internet was mostly used to read. This was however, not the meaning of the World Wide Web (www) and was not the case at the beginning of the Internet. The Web was originally designed as a medium where scientists could easily share their documents (Leiner, Cerf et al. 2003). According to van der Vlist et al. (2007) this was still the case when publishing home pages and editing was still easy because of simple technology and a smaller group of participants. In the last decade, the Internet has had more difficult tools and technologies added and more people were interested in using the Internet, which resulted in a passive Internet usage. With simple Web 2.0 technologies the Internet is becoming a read/write web again. Web 2.0 enables Internet users to participate and share contributions again in a simple manner.

Recent research shows that this changed the way we use the Internet completely; ‘nearly half of online consumers participate in at least one Web 2.0 activity with 13% coming from creators (e.g. publish WebPages or blogs, upload photos), 19% from critics (e.g. comment rate or review), 15% collectors (e.g. use RSS or tag WebPages), 19% from joiners (e.g. use social networking sites), and 33% from spectators (e.g. read blogs, watch peer-generated videos and listen to podcasts)’ (Forrester Research 2006a). Although research reveals that a low number of internet users are familiar with the definition of Web 2.0, many people do use it (Ruigrok|NetPanel 2007). By several experienced people, it is already pointed out that Web 2.0 changes our economy and business perspective. For instance, Charron, Favier et al. (2006a) argues that top down-management must be abandoned; Hinchcliffe (2007) points out to focus on communication in the form of conversation, instead of a monologue; and Sturgeon (2006) writes about new levels of interactivity. This research tries to extend this by providing first insight in companies that already take advantage of Web 2.0.