Use of Web 2.0 in Business
Web 2.0 is a notional concept used to describe second generation web-based communities and hosted services that are available on the World Wide Web. One of the enabling technologies of Web 2.0 is Ajax, a web development technique that transparently exchanges small amounts of data with the server so that an entire web page does not need to be reloaded each time a change is requested by the user. There are several elements that are typically thought of as defining a web site as being Web 2.0 including mashups, real-time data feeds, tags, and user-generated content. These elements are often used in applications such as wikis, podcasts, and blogs. Although these applications have relevance to some businesses, they are not applicable to all. The key to appropriately using Web 2.0 for business purposes is to look at the technology itself rather than the current applications to determine how it can be leveraged into doing something new and relevant for one's business.
The last hundred years have been witness to an amazing procession of new technologies that have revolutionized the way that we do business in the twenty-first century. Letters that were once written by hand were replaced by those written on the typewriter. The same correspondence was later produced on word processors, which morphed into the personal computers sitting on our desktops. Cut-and-paste no longer requires scissors and a gluepot but a drag and drop, or a few mouse clicks on a virtual document. The editing process and review cycle that not too long ago was measured in many cases by the march of weeks or even months can be shortened to hours or days by online collaboration and document sharing.
In addition, not only has the technology by which we produce our correspondence changed, the correspondence itself has changed as a result of the opportunities opened by technology. E-mail, tweets, social media posts, and instant messages allow us to dash off messages and have them received almost instantaneously across the office or across the globe. This capability not only allows business to proceed at a faster pace, but also means that people have access to levels of the hierarchy that they previously did not have. However, it is not only written communication that has changed: the virtual meeting in many cases has obviated the travel time and costs associated with in-person meetings.
Not only has technology in many ways improved our lives and the ways that we do business, but also frequently renders those who do not keep up with the times looking backward and ineffectual. The volunteer committee meeting that requires one to commute an hour each way to glad hand and have lunch followed by 20 minutes of productive business is much less likely to make it into our schedules than is a similar meeting that is held for 20 minutes over the web in front of our own computers. The organization demanding the in-person meeting may quickly be left in the dust as increasing numbers of people find that they do not have the time and money to spend on unnecessary tasks to do business in the 24/7 world of today.
Web 2.0 is a notional concept that was introduced by Darcy DiNucci in 1999 and popularized at the 2004 Web 2.0 Conference sponsored by MediaLive International and O'Reilly Media (DiNucci, 1999; MediaLive International and O'Reilly Media, 2004). The concept is used to describe second generation web-based communities and hosted services that are available online. The concept originated with the migration to the Internet as a platform. Although the term Web 2.0 implies that it is a new version of the World Wide Web, there are, in actuality, no updated technical specifications associated with it. Similarly, Web 2.0 is not a new technology: rather, it is the creative use and bundling of existing technologies in ways that have allowed a greater level of connection and collaboration online. Although it was dismissed at first by some as a buzz word that is more appropriate to those under 20 than it is to the corporation, Web 2.0 includes many capabilities that have been adopted by businesses.
Rich Internet Applications
As people invent more and better ways to utilize and leverage Internet technology, an increasing number of applications (also called rich Internet applications or RIAs) run on the Internet or on company intranets rather than on other platforms. There are several characteristics of these applications.
- First, it is important to note that they are not replacements for software applications that run on the desktop, but supplement them.
- In addition, these applications are dynamic; updating content automatically.
- Another characteristic of rich Internet applications is that they are collaborative; drawing on information from multiple sources and depending on the contributions of multiple users.
- In addition, rich Internet applications typically are designed to appeal not only to the majority interests, but are also usable and useful for smaller niches within the community.
Either despite these complexities or because of them, rich Internet applications tend to be simple and intuitive and invite the participation of a wide range of users.
- Asynchronous refers to the intermittent (as opposed to steady stream) transmission of data that does not require a common clock signal as a timing reference.
- XML (extensible markup language) was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium -- the organization that oversees the development of specification, guidelines, and other tools for the World Wide Web -- as a computer metalanguage that allows web authors to create their own tags to describe virtually any piece of data in a web-enabled system.
Benefits of AJAX
AJAX has enabled web designers to develop advanced and interactive designs for several reasons. The introduction of an AJAX engine between the user and the server, eliminates the start-and-stop nature of intersections between the user and the web. This additional layer makes the application more responsive and enables websites to be more interactive. To do this, the browser loads the AJAX engine which renders the user interface and communicates with the server on behalf of the user. The AJAX engine allows the user to interact with the application asynchronously; independent of communication with the server. If something is needed from the server in order to appropriately respond (e.g., submitting or receiving data, loading additional interface code), the requests are made asynchronously (usually with XML) so that the user's interaction with the application is not stalled. AJAX has been used for login forms, auto-complete tools, form submission and validation, chat rooms...
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