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.

No comments: