2.0 Mania?

By the way this is Gopal Shenoy 2.0 writing this blog? I felt that if I don’t have a 2.0 next to my name, I am going to be considered old. There is a 2.0 behind everything these days – Web 2.0, Marketing 2.0, Where 2.0, Business 2.0, PR 2.0, XYZ 2.0, you name it. Brings back memories of late 90’s. Was’nt this when we experienced a similar craze of .com and we all know how that one went.

I am a big proponent of Web 2.0 principles, but this 2.0 behind everything is driving me crazy. 2.0 by itself anything is not going to get us anywhere. 2.0 behind inefficient processes is not going to be a magic wand. But it sure feels that way – “2.0” has surely become a buzzword now. Customers have not changed their needs overnight from the 1.0 days to the present 2.0 day. Yes, they have new needs, but there are certain things that have not changed.

1) Customers are still looking for products that solve their needs the right way.

2) Businesses have to be profitable to have long term success. (Ok, youtube did not make one cent before they got bought out by Google for a zillion dollars, same thing with flickr. I could list similar acquisitions during the .com craze too and hence I am not going to use these successes as the new way of doing business)

3) Customers are still looking for companies that will treat them with respect, listen to their new needs and solve them.

4) Businesses need to continue to innovate and stay ahead of the competition.

None of these fundamentals of doing business have changed. “2.0” to me is a new way of doing business, new way of reaching out to customers, new way of empowering customers (wikis, blogs, forums etc.) and a new way of listening to the authentic opinions of customers. Doing all this requires a fundamental cultural shift in companies. Unless this shift happens, no “2.0” or “100.0” methodology is going to make one bit of a difference. In fact, failing to make this cultural shift will leave companies behind.

One of the larger shifts “2.0” has brought to the table is that consumers are now in control of what word gets spread about a product. Vendors can no longer control what gets said about their products. Consumers are now looking for authentic user opinions on products, avoiding vendor websites where rosy pictures of products are presented. Unless companies are willing to embrace this feedback, listen to it and take immediate action to fix the issues, they will fail. This is a lot more of a cultural and less of a technology shift and hence is a lot harder for some companies to digest and change.

As a consumer, I love it. As a marketer, I need to be ready to make the shift myself. Embracing 2.0 without a game plan to quickly fix what annoys consumers will not work. “2.0” has given consumers the biggest megaphone they could ever hope for and companies better embrace and act quickly or be fearful of being left behind. Products need to work as advertised, your service needs to be courteous, timely, otherwise the whole world will soon know.

“2.0” principles are solid, but I sure hope this mania will not end the same way as the .com mania.

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