Web 2.0 flurry appears to be slowing down

Researchers at McKinsey, the business analysts, have discovered that the initial enthusiasm there was for “Web 2.0” is now waning. In fact, far fewer businesses have taken up things like blogging and social networking than was predicted.

Web 2 report

As you can see from McKinsey’s own graph (above) on average only around a third of all businesses have actually engaged in any form of Web 2.0. Hardly a resounding ring of support for these new technologies is it?

Yet blogging, for instance, has been with us for more than 10 years – it’s hardly new in the Internet world. Social networks also began 10 years ago – Ecademy, for instance, was one of the first online social networks and that was formed more than 10 years ago now. Business has had time to catch up.

So why are they not engaging with these new technologies as much as the pundits predicted? In spite of Business Week magazine claiming over three years ago that blogging was a business pre-requisite, most businesses have yet to take it up. True, there has been an increase since the last time McKinsey did its survey, but still the majority of businesses do not engage in any Web 2.0 activities.

The answer is simple: there’s no money in it. In spite of what you may read about “making millions from blogging”, most of the people doing that are actually writing blogs about “making millions from blogging”. For the rest of us, blogging and social networking is more about brand, reputation, image, presence etc. And those are the bits of business that hard-nosed CEOs can’t put a value on.

You can’t easily calculate the ROI on blogging or social networking. So, unless someone in a firm can put together a business case, it tends to get ignored. The McKinsey report shows us that there is increasing dissatisfaction with Web 2.0 as a whole. Those people using it are finding it of less value it seems. That would imply that we are already at the peak of interest in Web 2.0. But that is tosh.

We are so early in the use of blogging and social networking as a business tool that people are still experimenting. We are in the phase of early adoption. Business thinking actually moves much more slowly than we’d like to accept, so it is going to be several years yet before big companies truly see the financial benefit of blogging. Meanwhile, of course, all those online start-ups are busy stealing their customers. By the time big business wakes up to the benefits of Web 2.0 and realises there is a financial benefit,  it could be too late.

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