Web 2.0 and the Digital Client

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If you missed this year's destinationCRM 2007 conference and exhibition in New York, you missed a tremendous opportunity to actively participate in the industry's leading learning forum. At the top of the conference, Malcolm Gladwell, the author of The Tipping Point, suggested that the CRM industry needs to reframe its value proposition
. In my chairman's address, I spoke of our industry's healthy transition resulting from continued growth, the application of wisdom, and the emergence of the Digital Client -- but with continued challenges in each of these areas. Author Stan Davis (Blur) suggested that, to secure continued growth and innovation, the CRM industry must get onto a new lifecycle that embraces Web 2.0 developments and accepts the digital client as a key factor in this transition. These keynotes were followed by the challenger session I conducted along with Tim Bajarin and Patrick Bultema -- the content of which I would like to share. First, we reviewed characteristics of the Web sites that form the current core of Web 2.0 -- Wikipedia, Craigslist, Google, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and LinkedIn. We asked lots of provoking questions, including:
  • How much does it cost to secure products and services on Web 2.0 sites? Nothing; basic services are all free.
  • Who are the Web 2.0 customers? Anyone and everyone.
  • How do you define a Web 2.0 customer? Anyone who invests personal resources online in exchange for value.
  • What's the value proposition for Web 2.0 sites? Social networking and the exchange of user-generated content.
  • Are there really significant numbers of visitors to Web 2.0 sites? Yes, including 56 million alone who have viewed the "Evolution of Dance" video on YouTube.
  • What's the value of these sites? In the billions: Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion, and a rumored Microsoft investment would peg Facebook's value at $10 billion.
We also reviewed why Cisco Systems' vibrant chairman and chief executive officer, John Chambers, recently concluded that "what our children started with social networking...will be the business models of the future." Finally we responded to these two tough questions:
  • Why will the digital client drive the future of business?
In the United States, there are 75 million young (less than 23 years old) digital clients. As I mentioned in my last column ("The Rise of the Digital Client," August 2007), these people are the key drivers behind Web 2.0, spending, on average, 8.5 hours per day digitally connected. They are the force mainly responsible for purchasing 270,000 iPhones during its first three days of release in the U.S. and 3 million iPhones by year-end. They provide much of the user-generated content for Web 2.0 sites. They commercialized social networking. They are "always on and always connected" (to each other and to the Web). And, as Tim Bajarin reminded us, this generation's social movement goes way beyond technology, drawing on normal human impulses and absorbing only those technologies that fit its goals. But most important, the digital client increasingly is the buyer of your products and services as well as the influencer of your employees and your other customers. Simply said, the digital client represents the future of your business.
  • How can your organization begin to create its digital client roadmap?
We suggested nine starting points:
  • Immerse yourself in Web 2.0 culture to understand it;
  • Ramp up your knowledge of social networking through participation;
  • Keep your eyes open to digital-client developments outside of your industry;
  • Conduct research among your client base regarding its Web 2.0 desires;
  • Secure an understanding of and comfort level with "disruptive" behavior;
  • Buy (or partner with) a Web 2.0 firm in your industry;
  • Ensure that all the information that you offer clients is accessible via mobile devices;
  • Hire Generation Y employees (and put at least one on your board of directors); and
  • Look at Web 2.0 and the digital client as an imperative extension of your brand.
Here's one prediction that bears repeating: Any organization in 2008 that isn't actively participating in at least two experiments involving Web 2.0 and the digital client is destined to follow the almighty typewriter into extinction. Barton Goldenberg is president and founder of ISM Inc., a CRM real-time enterprise consulting firm in Bethesda, Md. He is the author of CRM Automation and the publisher of The Guide to CRM Automation. Contact him at bgoldenberg@ismguide.com.

Related Articles: The Rise of the Digital Client Catering to this new breed of always-on customer will require a new approach to CRM. CRM at the Tipping Point The renowned author of The Tipping Point and Blink speaks at destinationCRM2007 about how CRM can break the barrier and make its way to success. The 2.0 Effect At destinationCRM2007, author and futurist Stan Davis outlines the influence that Web 2.0 is having on companies and their ability to service and sell to the next generation of consumers. Best Practices: 10 Tips to Online Community Success Well-defined structures and roles are key to maximizing community involvement in Web 2.0 initiatives such as forums, blogs, and chats; a destinationCRM2007 exclusive. Web 2.0: Secure Now, Succeed Later A new Gartner report says Web 2.0 technologies will force businesses to reconsider their approaches to security. Reflecting the CRM Wave of the Future Industry consultancy ISM announces the eight winners of its real-time CRM awards, applications that are delivering noteworthy capabilities as the clock ticks. The State of CRM: Strong and Healthy An industry luminary and keynote speaker at the destinationCRM 2006 conference champions real-time CRM as the muscle that will push CRM to new heights.
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