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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editor’s note From: Journal of Business Strategy, Volume 29, Issue 4
Two papers in this issue of JBS, coincidentally, mention the rise of Web 2.0 as a factor in today’s corporate environment. In case you are not familiar with Web 2.0 (and I was not), we cannot give you a concise definition. Not even the term’s inventor, Tim O’Reilly, can, but it is surely worth understanding since it is a real phenomenon. According to Wikipedia, itself a controversial construct, Web 2.0 “is a trend in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to facilitate creativity, information-sharing and, most notably, collaboration among users”. Further, although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users use webs.
Managers ignore or minimize the role that new technologies and networks such as MySpace, Facebook, blogs and wikis have on their businesses at great risk. Employees at every level and customers in every location are tuned in to these networks and sources of information (or misinformation). It all has to be acknowledged and managed.
IBM, as one might expect, is in the vanguard of adapting Web 2.0-centric communications strategy to engage employees and customers alike. For example, the company began hosting ValueJams online, during which employees and customers from all over the world could participate in an ongoing dialogue driven by innovative ideas and collaboration.
As Matt Gonring points out in his paper on “Customer Loyalty and Employee Engagement”, all of these “digital enablers” (that is, Web 2.0) allow users anywhere to generate content. They can say what they want, often with impunity. This is a dramatic shift in a certain kind of power that has senior management as unprepared as everyone else.
Andrew Zolli, in an exclusive interview with JBS, comments on the Web 2.0 phenomena as well. He points out that while people (mostly young people) today have extensive networks on sites such as Facebook and MySpace, those networks are composed of decidedly weak ties. In fact, just what it means to have thousands of acquaintances and social contacts through these networks remains unclear.
Zolli is one of three business leaders JBS publisher Kim Foster interviewed during a London conference last fall. She also interviewed renowned conductor Benjamin Zander on the intersection of music and corporate leadership and Nick Wheeler on entrepreneurship. We hope you find these interviews, a new feature for JBS, valuable and interesting.