The industry has spent a lot of time defining Web 2.0 and mapping its DNA. But as we attempt to emulate the fast-growth success of the Web 2.0 darlings, we need to zero in on the parts of the DNA that actually create this noteworthy new value.
What put the 2 in Web 2.0?
Your instinct may tell you that some of the DNA-like attributes of Web 2.0 have been around for some time, and in truth, many have. So why didn’t we see Web 2.0 offerings popping up years ago? Because these older attributes, while significant, weren’t enough to produce viable Web 2.0 products.
Some of the attributes we associate with Web 2.0 were introduced and commercialized as early as the mid 1990s; let’s call these Foundation Attributes. The figure detail below is part of a PDF that separates these “significant but not sufficient” attributes from the more recent Experience Attributes, those that create the kind of value that’s caused the recent excitement over Web 2.0.
When Experience Attributes are combined with Foundation Attributes for a Web 2.0 offering, the result can be a valuable new service with a fast-growth business model.
I identified these attributes based on how concisely they captured the capabilities of Web 2.0. Rather than returning to the underlying functional features of Web 2.0 (e.g., tagging, RSS), or overextending into the business impacts (e.g., mash-up ecologies), these attributes outline the capabilities of Web 2.0 independent of specific business concepts. Together, they represent the aspects of Web 2.0 success that you can apply in multiple market spaces.
Amazon was taking advantage of the Long Tail before we even had a name for the concept that has since become widespread. Ebay capitalized on the network effect to create a many-to-many marketplace. Early blogs were already embracing the value created from individual users.
These attributes — user-contributed value, the Long Tail, and network effect — are all Foundation Attributes of Web 2.0 services. They’re a part of many Web-based offerings, including some that we don’t call Web 2.0:
User-Contributed Value – Users make substantive contributions to enhance the overall value of a service.
The Long Tail – Beating the sales of one or two best-seller products by using the Internet to sell a cumulatively greater amount of the products that have low demand or low sales.
Network Effect – For users, the value of the network substantially increases with the addition of each new user.
All of these attributes are significant parts of the Web 2.0 economic model, but aren’t sufficient to create the new value of Web 2.0 on their own. They enable Web 2.0 offerings to generate and maximize value from many sources, no matter how small they may be.
Flickr, Google Maps, and Wikipedia are all unique services that were undeliverable before Web 2.0. What makes us take notice is the novel way they use Experience Attributes to generate value. (Foundation Attributes then distribute that value across the network and down the Long Tail.) Experience Attributes include:
Decentralization – Users experience services on their terms, not those of a centralized authority, such as a corporation.
Co-creation – Users participate in the creation and delivery of the primary value of a service.
Remixability – Experiences are created and tailored to user needs by integrating the capabilities of multiple services and organizations.
Emergent Systems – Cumulative actions at the lowest levels of the system drive the form and value of the overall system. Users derive value not only from the service itself, but also the overall shape that a service inherits from user behaviors.
By blurring the lines that traditionally delineate supplier, vendor, and customer, these services have pioneered new value streams that can output new types of offerings, harness new efficiencies, and produce higher levels of continuous innovation. Experience Attributes make Web 2.0 offerings fierce competitors in their respective marketplaces.
Where Your Company Fits
If your company is competing in the Web 2.0 space, pay attention to which attributes are part of your plan. The Foundation Attributes are essential ingredients for your economic model, but they won’t generate compelling new value on their own.
Building on one of the Experience Attributes will give you a competitive advantage and a differentiating new value for your Web 2.0 offering. Experience Attributes should provide you with a value stream and a service offering that looks, works, and feels much different from that of your marketplace competitors.
Brandon Schauer is a senior practitioner for Adaptive Path, the world’s premier user experience consulting company. He has nearly a decade of experience developing new products, services, and user experiences on the Web, handhelds, and beyond.
This article is refereced from http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000547.php