How Businesses Can Harness the Power of Web 2.0

How Businesses Can Harness the Power of Web 2.0Web 2.0 Technologies Help Forge Synergy Between Company and Customer

Web 2.0 – what the heck is it? No, it’s not the latest brainchild of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs that we waited breathlessly for. The term, Web 2.0, a clever reference to software versions, was coined in 2004 by Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media. Though Web 2.0 has been cited millions of times in Google, the buzzword has been defined in many different ways. “Simply put, Web 2.0 is really about using the Web as a platform for interaction between user and provider,” said Scott C. Margenau, president of ImageWorks Studio, a B2B and B2C Branding Firm.

So what does this mean to businesses and consumers?

Many of the technologies that undergird Web 2.0 have been around since the mid ’90s. It’s the innovative ways users such as consumers and businesses are interacting with the Web that are relatively new. Running software applications on the Web versus on the desktop is also a big part of what defines Web 2.0, which is considered by some to be the second phase of the World Wide Web.

“Businesses can use a variety of Web. 2.0 technologies in inventive and interactive ways to convey information to a large audience – particularly potential customers,” said Margenau.

Companies of all sizes are using Web 2.0 technologies such as Blogs, Business Networking such as Linked In, Ryze or even Facebook, AJAX, RSS, Adobe Flash, CMS (Content Management Systems), Podcasting, Wikis, XHTML markup and other user-oriented architecture that helps forge a synergy between company and customer. Companies can use Web 2.0 capabilities to:
Boost customer relations through a variety of communication tools.

Disseminate a business’s Web content through technologies such as Really Simple Syndication (RSS).
Give customers a voice – via social networking tools such as blogs and forums – when it comes to the creation of new products. Once customers become invested in the product development process, they may be more likely to remain loyal to the company.

Easily provide customers with information about the company and its products through podcasts and interactive download libraries. These tools represent more robust and interactive venues than “white papers” of the past.

Deliver a suite of technical services using a Web-based platform.
Reach their customers through dynamic, changing Web site pages rather than through static ones.
Instantly manage and update their Web site’s content and structure to align with a customer’s expectations.

Instantly respond to customers using Live Chat and other interactive options that can reduce phone calls and long wait times, which often result in unhappy

Businesses using Web 2.0 technologies can also realize savings in their IT budgets as Web-based applications can be updated easily, potentially eliminating the need for costly technical support.

“Though there is still no consensus on the precise definition of Web 2.0, the use of Web 2.0 capabilities offers businesses of all sizes the ability to reach and influence their customers in greater ways than ever before,” said Margenau.