David Burney leads panel discussion on interactivity, changing business models of the Web

30 04 2010

According to David Burney, the Web has made a mess of business.  In a panel discussion Wednesday, Burney and four other speakers from various backgrounds explored the likely directions business is headed.

David Burney moderates a panel discussion on the future of interactivity and the Web. (Photo: Dan Anderson, Elon University)

The Web has changed business models.  In the 20th century, business was implemented top-down.  Everything was very linear, about control.  Now, the world is networked.  Businesses are non-linear, concerned with freedom and transparency in their operations.  While the 20th century model was about structure, this model is about culture.

The new take on business because of the Web begins with culture.  “This culture is build around satisfying customers’ needs, wants and values,” Burney said.  Groups of people who are customers interconnect and engage the company and tell them how to innovate, which then drives the creation of the brand.

“When groups of people interconnect and see how its going, they see that the business value increases and begins the circle that begins again as culture becomes richer and deeper,” Burney said.

Customer services is the new marketing

In the past, customer services killed conversation between companies and clients, said Keith Messick of Get Satisfaction.  People crave conversation and the opportunity to get involved.

In the past couple of years there has been a shift where service is moved to the front end of the business model.  Customers have massive influence businesses should engage as advocates because their stories are more credible than anything the business can say.

Becky Minervino of McKinney said that business is about finding insight, but the tools have changed and social media is the new way for companies to communicate with their customers.

“We should pay attention to this and start behaving differently.  It sounded intimidating nine times out of ten. Often there was a hesitancy to give up some control and participate,” Minervino said.  Giving up control, however, is part of the new business model and allows more open conversations.

Strategists deal in an interactive space

According to Steven Keith, an independent designer, there are three things that have, and will continue to have, the greatest impact on interactivity: technology, budget and speed.

“(Technology) has an impact on design and what you build with your strategies,” Keith said.  Budget sets the tempo for the type of project, and speed “has everything to do with how we’re designing things,” he said.

Additionally, this interactive space means more communication between the company and the customer.

In the past, the company communicated its message to its customers who simply listened.  Today, because of the Web, the customers listen to the company message coming from multiple employees within the company.

“And then all of the sudden customer got a mouth and the web enabled that,” Chris Grams of New Kind said.

The Web is closely linked with the ability to customers to communicate with companies, and vice versa.  The future of the Web will determine just how much stronger this communication grows as more and more companies allow their customers to have a bigger say in innovating and the brand.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS FROM THIS EVENT…
Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
http://bit.ly/imaginingtheinternet
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/

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