Web roundup: Feb 19, 2008

February 20, 2008

What’s going on around the internet world??? News and analyses from best and well-regard sources such as TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, VentureBeat, etc.

Read the round up at www.unitedBIT.com


VCs putting money into personal finance sites

February 17, 2008

Venture capitalists have been busy investing in personal-finance Web start-ups, attempting to tap into a new generation of consumers who have never balanced a checkbook and increasingly view online money management as they would any other kind of Web service.

Read at www.unitedBIT.com


Widgets: Moving Your Web Store Into The Community

February 17, 2008

Social media has grown to become a serious tool in a merchant’s marketing arsenal. However, perhaps the greatest social media advantage to merchants is still emerging — the ecommerce widget.

Read at www.unitedBIT.com


New Capital Connections For Entrepreneurs: Person-to-Person Lending

February 17, 2008

Credit-market carnage makes it all the more important for small businesses to understand the full range of potential sources for capital. A growing alternative to traditional sources: person-to-person lending Web sites.

Read at www.unitedBIT.com


HR’s struggle with Web 2.0

February 15, 2008

They’re born at a seemingly nonstop pace: Web start-ups offering new ways for businesses to connect with people. Companies large and small are furiously developing MySpace pages and Facebook applications, and hoping that the masses will beat paths straight to their doors.Some companies have leveraged the parade of Internet hot shots to their advantage, and many are still trying to find a way. They understand the value of connecting with people as customers. But when it comes to using the Internet to connect with people as potential recruits, it’s a different story.

Read at www.unitedBIT.com


Three Big Ideas for Doing CRM Online in 2008

February 14, 2008

Just 10% of the 558 IT executives we polled in CIO’s latest “State of the CIO” survey identified “external customer focus” as critical to their jobs. That’s not enough. The external customer is exactly whom CIOs should understand. Across industries, understanding how customers interact with the company must inform the work of IT managers. Doing so can mean more profits for the company, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity for career development.

Read more at unitedBIT.com


Is the Web 2.0 Bubble Set to Burst?

November 20, 2007

By Jim Rapoza

In recent months, an increasing number of technology analysts and pundits have started to sound the alarm that we are on the cusp of another technology bubble burst—in this case, the Web 2.0 bubble. If you expect me to disagree with these pundits, guess again. Of course another bubble burst is coming.

All of this talk about bubbles got me thinking about the classic cycles of busts. Because when you analyze past technology bubbles, you’ll always see the same progression from pure technology to pure marketing. By paying attention to this progression, you might even be able to tell when a bubble is getting too big for its own good and is likely to burst.

So how does one begin to build a technology bubble? At the beginning of a bubble, it’s all technology. This is the point of entry of the inventers. These are the people who have the idea of a new groundbreaking technology, such as e-commerce, social networking, PC software, whatever. At this end of the spectrum, the participants are brilliant technologically but have no marketing skills whatsoever. The only people who are paying attention to their breakthroughs are those with similar technological inclinations.

The next phase is where the innovative entrepreneurs come in. These players understand the technology but also have enough marketing skills and salesmanship to build products that people actually want, and they are able to start real buzz around a new technology.

This leads to the equilibrium point for technology and marketing. This is also the stage in a technology bubble where the biggest, best and most enduring solutions are created—whether it’s Microsoft, Amazon, Google or eBay.

Unfortunately, this is also the stage in which the people who are all marketing and no technology decide that it’s time to get in on the action. You know who these “entrepreneurs” are. These are the snake oil salesmen. The people who talk a good game and can convince anyone from venture capitalists to the press to the general public that they have the biggest, coolest, most important new thing out there.

So what if their product doesn’t do anything, or has no way to actually make money, or is a bad version of another product that’s already out there? These players are so good at marketing themselves and their products that they are able to generate irrational exuberance.

But all these people are really supplying is a bunch of hot air. And you know what happens to bubbles when they get too full of hot air.

Pop.

And so the bubble bursts, taking down the shameful hucksters who caused the burst (though also typically taking down a few legitimate companies that deserved better).

But the bubble burst isn’t always a bad thing. For the technologies involved, it can be a cleansing experience. With all the hype and hot air removed, the technology can settle down to doing its intended job. After all, despite the damage of the .com bust, e-commerce is doing just fine.

So keep an eye on your bubble cycles and know when to avoid the hot air. And, remember: Somewhere out there right now is a technology-savvy and marketing-weak inventor who is starting the first puffs for a whole new technology bubble.

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Investing: The Net Wisdom of Peers

November 19, 2007

By Deborah Perelman
Historically, recruiting has not been a particularly transparent process. Organizations looking to hire put a job description out on a Web board such as Monster, CareerBuilder or Dice, and candidates apply on that limited information alone. The vast majority are rejected without ever knowing why. “In effect, corporations are basically screening people out. Candidates don’t feel like they’re being recruited into organizations, or being made to feel wanted,” Zach Thomas, an analyst with Forrester Research, told eWEEK.Though Web 1.0 recruiting technologies such as big job boards and vendor-powered ATS (application tracking systems) on corporate career sites have been effective in increasing efficiency and driving down recruiting costs, in the Web 2.0 world, candidates want more texture in the recruiting process—transparency, unedited content, answers to user-submitted questions and communication that is not only top-down. “It makes the whole process a lot more transparent. It puts the community in control of the information out there, versus the traditional ‘here is the position and we will tell you what it is all about,’ where the candidate can’t ask questions or see for themselves,” Thomas said.Organizations that limit their recruiting efforts to outdated processes will lose out in the long run, Thomas said, as a younger generation of job seekers wants more transparency in the recruiting process. Furthermore, the passive majority of candidates—those who may not even know they are looking until presented with the right offer—are increasingly “out there” in social networks but are not being approached.The answer is for organizations to start taking advantage of social computing, something colleges have long done to meet students where they are, but that has yet to move into corporate culture.

“I get a lot of questions from customers about how to engage with this new work force and what they’re looking for. There’s a lot of room for innovation out there, and innovation tends to start in the consumer market and move into the corporate one,” Thomas said.

The profile of those who use social computing speaks for itself. Forrester found in an Oct. 25 report that the biggest users of social technologies were highly paid professionals, well-educated individuals, and new entrants to the work force. The first group was the most active but also the hardest to recruit. In the latter group—new entrants—70 percent of Generation Y were found to be engaged in social networks and are expected to replace today’s business leaders at a relatively younger age.

“We are also in an environment where people are not working for GE for 25 years and then retiring, but switching jobs at a rapid pace. Learning experiences are very important to them, as is the ability to immediately contribute to the organization and not be weighed down by bureaucratic processes,” Thomas said.

Organizations often don’t know how or where to start using social technologies to recruit. Some may fear the level of transparency that accompanies a two-way conversation, and others have internal policies that prevent the use of social networks.

“I tell organizations to start doing this to the degree they are comfortable, and as they see the results, get it more and more ingrained in their culture,” Thomas said. “But if you express your corporate culture to be something it is not, you’ll get hung.”

While recruiters tend to agree that social technologies can be useful in locating professionals and making an initial contact, most caution against relying on them too heavily.

“Social networking sites and tools represent just one early step in a company’s overall hiring and recruiting process,” John Estes, vice president of Robert Half Technology, in Menlo Park, Calif., told eWEEK.

It still takes recruiters and hiring managers a lot of time to bring someone on board after that initial contact is made.

“There is no substitute for a real-life connection with a job seeker,” said Estes.

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What is Web 2.0? Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software

November 15, 2007

by Tim O’Reilly

7 Principles of Web 2.0

  1. The Web As Platform
  2. Harnessing Collective Intelligence
  3. Data is the Next Intel Inside
  4. End of the Software Release Cycle
  5. Lightweight Programming Models
  6. Software Above the Level of a Single Device
  7. Rich User Experiences

Core Competencies of Web 2.0 Companies

In exploring the seven principles above, we’ve highlighted some of the principal features of Web 2.0. Each of the examples we’ve explored demonstrates one or more of those key principles, but may miss others. Let’s close, therefore, by summarizing what we believe to be the core competencies of Web 2.0 companies:

  • Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability
  • Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use them
  • Trusting users as co-developers
  • Harnessing collective intelligence
  • Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service
  • Software above the level of a single device
  • Lightweight user interfaces, development models, AND business models

The next time a company claims that it’s “Web 2.0,” test their features against the list above. The more points they score, the more they are worthy of the name. Remember, though, that excellence in one area may be more telling than some small steps in all seven.

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Web 2.0: Buzzword, or Internet revolution?

November 14, 2007

By Jon Brodkin

Web 2.0 could be a meaningless marketing buzzword. Or it may represent a whole new paradigm for the Internet, one centered on user-generated content that could hasten the death of the newspaper industry.

There are lots of opinions about Web 2.0, and some of them – mostly of the pro-Web 2.0 variety – were on display Tuesday in a panel discussion during the annual meeting of the Mass Technology Leadership Council.

“Meet the new influencers,” said Paul Gillin, a writer and commentator on the tech industry and a former executive editor of Network World sister publication Computerworld.

Gillin relayed the well-known story of Vincent Ferrari, a 30-year-old blogger who recorded a phone call with a rude AOL customer service representative who repeatedly refused to grant Ferrari’s request – actually, at least 21 requests in five minutes – to cancel his service.

Ferrari’s blog crashed when 300,000 people tried to download the audio file last year, according to Gillin. He ended up in the New York Times and on the Today Show, where the clip was played for tens of millions of people, Gillin says. AOL fired the employee and sent Ferrari a written apology, but not before its reputation took a hit.

“Individuals and small groups of people have the ability to move markets that didn’t exist a few years ago,” Gillin said. “Fark.com is doing 40 million page views a day, which is more than the Chicago Tribune. It has the full-time equivalent of two employees. Craig Newmark of Craigslist.com is quietly killing the newspaper industry.”

Gillin predicted a rapid decline in the newspaper industry over the next two decades, saying the industry’s market model is unsustainable because it costs so much to deliver information. Markets will be smaller and more focused on particular audience segments because of Web 2.0, he predicted.

But what is Web 2.0?

“It’s never really been adequately defined,” said panel moderator John Landry, chairman and CTO at Adesso Systems in Boston. “It is, in many ways, a meaningless marketing buzzword.”

The significance of the term “Web 2.0” has been dismissed by Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium.

In an IBM podcast interview last July, Berners-Lee was asked about the common explanation that Web 1.0 is about connecting computers and making information available, while Web 2.0 is about connecting people and facilitating new kinds of collaboration.

Berners-Lee replied, “Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along.”

Tuesday’s panelists didn’t offer any new definitions of Web 2.0, but Landry said the basic concept is that everyone can participate, everyone can be a publisher.

According to Landry, if Web 1.0 is symbolized by Encyclopaedia Britannica and similar expert organizations, Web 2.0 is about Wikipedia, and content generated by users who may or may not know what they are talking about.

Landry said Web 2.0 is also seen in software as a service (SaaS), with its continual improvement of services replacing traditional product releases.

The City of Boston is getting in the Web 2.0 game too. Last June, the city hired Bill
Oates away from New York-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. As CIO at the hotel chain, Oates said his team created a site called the “lobby” where customers could talk about the hotels and ask questions. They also built a “loft” and hotel in Second Life, a three-dimensional online world built and owned by its “residents,” of which there are nearly 2.9 million worldwide.

Second Life , which has inspired parodies such as http://www.getafirstlife.com/, allows users to buy real estate and build assets, and has its own economy. Starwood Hotels used the site to reach a younger audience, and now the City of Boston is considering Second Life as well.

“Trust me, in the city we’re not spending a lot of time thinking about Second Life,” Oates said in yesterday’s panel discussion. “But we are thinking about it as a way to do community events and meetings.”

Second Life may also be a place where Boston could unveil a design for a new City Hall, Oates said.

In the real world, Boston is pursuing a wireless initiative to give residents low-cost Internet access anywhere in the city, and using its Web site to let residents pay bills and connect them to various municipal services.

For Oates, sharing information and engaging Boston residents is the key to Web 2.0.

The panel also included Judith Hurwitz, co-author of Service Oriented Architecture for Dummies. Hurwitz talked about a connection between SOA and Web 2.0.

SOA is an approach to building IT systems that makes it easier to reuse applications for a variety of purposes across an enterprise. The ability to use Internet-based services inside an enterprise have led some to call Web 2.0 the “universal SOA.”
“We are now looking at Web 2.0 and service oriented architecture as a cultural revolution,” Hurwitz said.

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