Making Communications Buzz

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Next Generation of the Internet: What's in It for Businesses?

A few weeks ago, Newsweek magazine featured a great article on "The New Wisdom of The Web." Here's the gist: there's a whole lot of new stuff happening on the World Wide Web. In fact, it's looking like the second Internet boom.

What's happening and how can businesses benefit?

No one is really sure what it means yet, but the latest developments in online communication (often called "Web 2.0") have the attention of media moguls like Rupert Murdoch, who opted in in a big way last year when he paid $580 million for a Web site called MySpace.

One of the most significant features of the new Web is user generated content. Sites like MySpace allow users to share an online profile with the world that incorporates digital photos and video, blogging, podcasting, online chat and other, more esoteric eMaterial. Naturally, it's all very appealing to teens and young adults.

But why would Murdoch care about a huge online teen hangout? Because there is much more at stake than just meeting new friends. User generated content is reshaping all kinds of media. Go to news Web sites like BBC Online and The New York Times and you see the signs: the BBC Online home page now has a prominently displayed link to "See what's popular and new". Check out this page; it's all about user input. The Times home page includes a feature box of links for Most Popular news stories "E-mailed, Blogged, Searched."

RSS is another new development, a very useful tool to be discussed in another post.

Why should businesses care about these trends? One conclusion might be that a static, brochure-like Web site is no longer going to be enough to set your company apart from the rest. The new Internet offers innumerable ways to reach out to, and interact with, customers and potential customers.

The good news is that many of the new tools available are easy to use.

If you are skeptical about all this, you are not alone.

For now, it's still safe to say that a company Web site should be:
1. Easy to find
2. Stocked with useful, well-organized information, including easy-to-find contact information

These two things are hardly Web 2.0 characteristics, and they should be addresses first and foremost.

Let me know what you think.

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