More than technology, Web 2.0 is an attitude. A short Q&A session helps us understand what Web 2.0 means:
"Everywhere": Getting access to social networks or being able to communicate from anywhere in the world have become an important aspect of today’s communication. The Web 2.0 attitude requires low restriction in terms of communication capabilities. In terms of technology, portable electronic goods such as mobile phones, portable media players and extra-light laptops are the tools of mobility.
"Immediately": Impatience is one of the key elements of the Web 2.0 attitude. People need information more quickly but they also want to share it more rapidly. In terms of technology, systems allowing instant communication like chats, Instant Messaging (IM), Really Simply Syndication (RSS) and to a certain extend SMS and Voice over IP (VoIP) are the drivers of spontaneousness.
"Everything (or whatever)": People have an increasing need to share all kinds of information with others. This propension for openess sometimes includes also very private information. In terms of technology, the need for more transparency is supported by the increasing number of social networks and communities as well as blogs on the internet.
"Everybody (or I don't care)": There is a social focus in the Web 2.0. attitude. People like sharing information and opinion but they require collaborative actions in order to feel part of a community. In terms of technology, platform allowing free change of information content such as Wikis and blogs or other types of collaborative online sites emphasize collaboration.
"The easyiest way": Web 2.0 has a specific focus on usability and any kind of technologies enabling or easing interactivity improve usability. In this context, AJAX, Flash, Flex, Tagging or Mashup represent key enablers for improved usability.
The Web 2.0 attitude is a real challenge not only in business but in our day-to-day personal life. Insurers have already launched interesting initiatives in that domain but it seems that some of them fail to capture their real strategic impacts. I am currently reviewing a few Web 2.0 projects implemented by European insurers and I am planning to describe them in a report to be published by Celent in Q2 this year. Web 2.0 interests European insurers but some of them have failed to make their initiatives pay-back. Reviewing successes and failures will certainly help insurers better understand where is the real value of Web 2.0.