Question: How much investment does Web 2.0 really take?
Answer: A lot.
I’ve seen the same quote repeated in several different locations recently. It was uttered by O’Reilly and has the twin benefits of being short, quantitative, and seemingly true. As I’m in the midst of setting up a new website for our company, focussed on the developer community that already exists (in number if not in action), it was a phrase that made me realise just how much work lay ahead of me.
Part of the work I’m doing is to replace the existing website, rebranding and updating it in one fell swoop. Most of the work is largely concerned with uploading documents and files to make sure that everything that is currently available will be available from the new website, but there are already thoughts around how we can use the website to drive further adoption, innovation and so on.
And, of course, because Web 2.0 is the phrase of the moment there are quite a few eyes waiting to see what will appear.
One thing I have realised, and I’m still winning over minds on this, is that most of what Web 2.0 is about isn’t the technology and, whilst this may seem like an odd statement, it’s not really about the people who use the website, not initially at any rate. No, for me the big issues that surround Web 2.0 adoption by corporations are centred around information and transparency, about being part of the conversation.
That last sentence is important. You cannot drive a conversation on the internet, you can start it, you can contribute to it, but once you’ve set it free you no longer have control over it. All you can do is hang in for the ride, and that’s where transparency kicks in. As the numbers of conversations grow the easier they are to manage if you are open and upfront. For, as Tim O’Reilly said of Web 2.0 (and I’m paraphrasing here):
“The more people that use it, the more uses we’ll find”
So, just as the benefits of having a more connected community of users will increase what they can acheive both individually and collectively, so to do the number of pitfalls awaiting the cumbersome.
What this confirms is that most of the challenges around setting up a community website are largely about the individuals and being able to reach out to them, to be able to consistently engage them and ultimately offer them benefits for their time and input.
Which doesn’t half take a lot of work.