What’s Wrong with UK Business 1.0?
The most interesting thing about being a blogger and paying close attention to what is happening in web2.0 and social networking circles is that you begin, after a while, to notice certain trends. Some of these trends are easy to spot, and talk about. Some are more complex and require a bit more thought and explanation.
The trends that are easy to talk about are simple, top level, obvious. Easy trend – people are using social networking software to communicate with new and old friends. People they may not have seen in years. Easy. Anyone can spot that kind of thing, and it is also easy to dismiss these kind of things as, well, obvious but not necessarily relevant. Young people have been using tools like IM, MySpace and Facebook for a while. The fact that Facebook has recently “jumped” into the mainstream and started to be used by, well, just about everybody, is pretty obvious. Less obvious is how all of this is going to affect UK businesses, if at all. I suggest it is affecting UK businesses, but at present only in a negative way.
As is typical in the UK, only the negative aspects of these new technologies are being talked about. In particular the time spent online looking at Facebook by employees when they should be working doing something else. And the security aspects have been highlighted, particularly by the security consultants. What people in the UK always seem to miss when these things come along are the positive aspects of the technology. As with all new technologies and situations, there are business opportunities. And businesses in the UK are in danger, yet again, of missing the point, as well as the boat.
I say yet again because this happened before. Back in the bad/good old web 1.0 boom, many UK businesses struggled to get a handle on this new fangled web thingy. Most sites ended up being poor brochure style static sites, or sites full of flash catalogues. Even when we realised what was actually happening, the UK dot net startups were poor copies of businesses based in the US. The opportunities had been lost by the time people had woken up to what was happening. UK retail businesses are still struggling from that particular round, with high street stores having trouble being competitive even today with US based online stores.
Well, now I can see the beginning of a new era where UK businesses are going to miss it. I know the web 2.0 blip is reportedly over, but the social networking bastard child has been born, is waking up, stretching its financial muscles and beginning to go out and get a job. And businesses in the UK, still stuck relatively in the last century business models, are going to struggle to comprehend even what is going on until it is too late. Many UK businesses who do not adapt to Business 2.0 methods and practices are going to go bust.
What we need to do in the UK is start embracing social networking software. I’m not talking about the man in the street, he’s already sold on the idea. I’m talking about the UK small, medium and large scale businesses who really didnt get that the conversation about how to do business has moved on into the 21st Century. And here and now you need to establish conversations with your customers and potential markets. And it’s not just your web “presence” either. It’s every aspect of how you do business, from the bottom right up to the top of your organisation. Business 2.0 is more than just technology, it’s realising that we are in a new century with new customers who are connected and who communicate at lightning speed with large groups of people. And it means more than placing a few adverts in Facebook. That’s not it either. The medium has changed, but so has the message you should be sending your customers, and the messages that they are sending you. Can you hear it?