Web 2.0 Goes to Work

Web 2.0 has evolved from being just an environment for cultivating social networking among employees; it has now become a valuable business tool.

One example is in customer support, where a Singapore company, in the telecommunications industry, is just using a team of five to support its customer base of five million, according to Dr Patrick Chan, chief technology advisor, IDC. He was speaking at the recent Web 2.0 Digital Marketplace conference in Singapore.

"This (unnamed) company faced the challenge where many of its customers faced elementary issues that actually works up to about 70 per cent of the working time spent by the support desk team," said Dr Chan.

Champion Bloggers

The strategy was having a team of "champion" bloggers to run a cluster of blogs. Virtually acting as a 24-hour support group, these contributors would answer questions posed by users. Other users would also take part by contributing their answers. "The advantage is that the users can revert a lot faster than the support staff," added Dr Chan.

Also, the "champion" bloggers would blog about their experiences, which could indirectly drive sales for the business overall.

While web media companies typically give discounts of their own products and services to these bloggers as incentives, the key to retaining these contributors is the glory of recognition.

"Look at scienceblogs.com, they take a few of their champion bloggers to contribute all the content. To support these champion bloggers, the first thing is to recognize them. Give them the so called elite feel. Because societal behavior means one needs to be recognized, otherwise they will not contribute," said Dr Chan.

Crowd Sourcing

"One of the benefits of Web 2.0 is to do more with less, so how do you do that? It is to have that kind of crowd sourcing, where you identify and retain them," he added.

However, Dr Chan said companies looking to step into the Web 2.0 space should take note of one thing, which is the capacity to scale up as more bandwidth is taken up with increased traffic.

One tale of caution would be the recent Firefox 3.0 launch. An intense campaign pushing for a record number of downloads caused the servers to stop temporarily for a few hours due to over demand.

Another lesson learned is the competition between top football games Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) and the FIFA series. After years of lagging behind the PES in popularity, the latter finally overtook the incumbent.

The reason was that FIFA's online game version ran with virtually no bugs while PES' kept having issues. "Never release a product that is not ready. You must expect capacity where people will come in," said Dr Chan.

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