Monthly Archives: October 2010

Who’s ready for Web 3.0?

Just when people started to become comfortable with Web 2.0, Social Media and increasingly “Cloud” – those internet hipsters have to push the envelope further!  In true geek style, increasing a version # is the equivalent to retail’s “New & Improved” formula for laundry detergent.  For supporters it sticks immediately because it has to be better than 2.0 – right?  In IT we move fast, learn, fail and iterate – using a zero based integer reflects our progress. For others it’s just another opportunity to exploit a “buzz word” an over-used, misunderstood acronym that attempts to differentiate the cool-kids from the has-beens.

Well, the only constant in technology is change – right?  Half the battle is determining what concepts are worth your time and which are just noise.  A good CIO should be able to help decipher that for your organization.  I often say, my level of detail fluctuates between 2″ or 20,000 feet – and not much in between.  It takes a respectable amount of time to stay abreast of what seems to be a daily innovation – as somebody, somewhere has uncovered the latest must-have technology/process or technique that you simply can’t live without.  Everyone once in a while, they’re right, most often they’re not.

At Billhighway, R&D is a first class citizen.  It’s important we’re able to speak to all modern technologies, tools, resources or methodologies – we pride ourselves on continuous improvement.  Agile, Scrum & Lean are deeply embedded into our thought process and rarely is there only a single way for getting something done.  Often, the correct answer to an IT question is “it depends.”  There are simply too many variables that can impact your results, having diverse perspectives and a process that can remove emotional decision-making is often key.  And, in a way, that’s what Web 3.0 is all about – the Semantic Web.

Arguably, each of the previous web generations was transformative to business and 3.0 aims to build upon that evolution.  Web 3.0 is a smarter Web, giving users/computers/processes better ways to share information, helping to make faster, more accurate decisions (business intelligence the the 3rd power.)  This has enormous benefits for people who need to search for information, automate business processes and transactions.  Information in a Web 3.0 world will be much easier to access, because systems will do a lot of the time-consuming work that people still do today.

Ultimately, it’s about transparency – by providing incentives for reducing waste and improving accountability.  The orchestration of tools that cut years of research down to days – the holy grail of “do more with less.”  The promise of Web 3.0 suggests information will be much better linked and more efficiently utilized on an increasingly global scale.  Gone are the days of walled gardens.  Sure there will always be private and confidential data, but it will be increasingly abstracted and consumed in more meaningful ways without jeopardizing critical data – via personal data lockers where you control access to your identity, configuring who gets access to what and in what context depending upon role, intent and location.  Think of it as a deeper understanding of the relationships between people, services and objects – paving the way for Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), Open Energy Information (OpenEI), advancements in biotech and even improvements in customer service.

It remains to be seen, if Web 3.0 will have the fan fair of say, Web 2.0 – which even casual observers could see or feel an impact.  3.0 is about transparency whereas 2.0 fundamentally changed the landscape and has touched nearly everyone in a meaningful way.  Think I’m wrong?  Have you managed to boycott Facebook or refuse to tweet?  How about read the news on an iPhone/iPad or eReader?  Still writing checks?  It’s hard to imagine any brand that isn’t somehow trying to incorporate a social strategy – even if done poorly or lacking initial value. The “conversation” has begun and the integration of one’s online and offline life is becoming co-mingled – with or without your participation.  The pace of change is increasing, knowledge has paved the way for tools and business processes to streamline, automate and exploit what we were taught in kindergarten – SHARING.

Hindsight is 20/20, but a rare few are able to decipher the climate of the internet economy and position themselves and/or their organizations to benefit from the next wave of innovation – bring on the “real-time-web.”

*If you find this an interesting subject, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of The ClueTrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual.