This month the McKinsey Quarterly published the results of a global survey “How businesses are using Web 2.0.” The report , conducted in January 2007, indicates that executives, by and large, intend not only to increase their investment in Web 2.0 technology, but they wish they had done more sooner. The recent rapidity and ubiquity of uptake of Web 2.0 tools in the consumer marketplace likely colors the hindsight.
McKinsey surveyed respondents on specific areas of Web 2.0, including Web services, collective intelligence, peer-to-peer networking, social networking, RSS, podcasts, wikis, blogs and mash-ups. The emphasis on investment was highest on Web Services, collective intelligence, P2P networking, with respectable, but less emphasis on social networking, RSS, podcasts, blogs and wikis.
McKinsey included sidebar of definitions of all of the above terms, and collective intelligence is defined as “any system that attempts to tap the expertise of a group rather than an individual to make decisions. Technologies that contribute to collective intelligence include collaborative publishing and common databases for sharing knowledge.”
I found it interesting that wikis, blogs, social networking and RSS were not viewed in the constellation of collective intelligence tools, but it may be that executives were less familiar with their role in that capacity. Virtual team workspaces, such as eRoom, MS SharePoint are perhaps considered by IT professionals in the collective intelligence space, but McKinsey didn’t specify.
But the executives surveyed did indicate that they viewed Web 2.0 influencing and creating a more flexible method of introduction and acquisition of capabilities than the typical top-down practices. Some of the resulting benefits were towards optimizing internal collaboration, extending their collaboration and communication effectiveness with customers and partners, and gaining efficiencies in their supply chain.
The survey also points to a significant global uptake in these technologies in every major geography across major sectors of retail, high tech, telecommunications, financial services and pharmaceuticals. It’s a survey well worth reading in its entirety.