McKinsey Quarterly: How Businesses Are Using Web 2.0

May 9, 2007 at 1:15 pm | Posted in collaboration, social software, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

A new study from McKinsey came out that shows the planned adoption of “Web 2.0” technologies.  You can take a look for free here: The McKinsey Quarterly: How businesses are using Web 2.0: A McKinsey Global Survey.

I found it interesting as much for how it chose to structure the survey as the answers themselves.

Definition of Web 2.0: McKinsey’s definition consists of blogs, collective intelligence, mashups, p2p networking (file sharing), podcasts, RSS, social networking, wikis, and web services.  Web services?  That struck me as an odd component to include as it doesn’t pertain to the two commonly accepted elements of the bundling: participatory web and rich internet applications. It seems collective intelligence and social networking overlap quite a bit as well.  But it’s tough to come up with any set of discrete categories for Web 2.0 without hitting some overlap now and then.

Who they talked to: McKinsey surveyed 2,847 executives (44% C-level positions).  Those who adhere to the Web 2.0 “empowering the information worker”, “breaking down the hierarchies”, and “exploit the hidden network” mantras may find it odd to interview executives about what are inherently grass roots technologies.  Accordingly, I think the somewhat low adoption figures are a bit distorted by the fact that these executives often aren’t aware of the use of these technologies and place more value in tools tied to the existing hierarchy and status quo than those that turn it around.  In a web architecture workshop I led in 1999 I asked where the technical attendees thought they were in adoption and risk of web technologies and then where the executives thought they were and the differences were striking.  I similar chart from this survey would have been interesting.

Timeframe: The survey asked about financial return on Web 2.0 investments over the past 5 years.  While these technologies did exist 5 years ago, the term Web 2.0 is only about 3 years old, so there are 2 years where they are retroactively anointing investments as being Web 2.0.

So what about the results?  Overall, I believe a modest picture emerged of adoption of these technologies.

  • They found early adopters to be most satisfied, but I don’t think that translates into a broad recommendation since this is a self-selecting group.
  • Mash-ups got mashed – not only did a mere 21% say they were using or planning to use them, but 54% said they were not even under consideration.  This is an example of a case where I believe executives don’t see the impact from their point of view.  But I believe mashups will seep into their organizations as a form of “composite application lite” whether they even notice or not.
  • Most other technologies were being used or planned to use in 30-40% of organizations, but I believe this reflects formal usage (per enterprise standard) or usage the executives know about.  I would propose that a more in depth study would uncover significantly higher usage of these technologies under the radar.
  • India ranked much higher on Web 2.0 usage, but mostly because of the addition of web services in the package. When you take that out the numbers are similar to North America.

All in all, a good and timely survey and worth reading through.  But I think it demonstrates that the disconnect between traditional enterprise hierarchies and tools and grass roots empowerment that is driving a lot of Web 2.0 interest is also reflected in this survey of executives.  A fascinating study would be to talk to bottom level employees and architects in the same organization and compare their answers to those of their executives and publish the differences.


Leave a Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: