Groundswell

A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.Image via Wikipedia

As Web 2.0 explodes, how do we manage the complexity? The holy grail is self management by communities which care. I found this excerpt from Groundswell interesting:

Advertising succeeds by giving the same message to everybody. Customer support representatives read from the same script, because the company can’t treat employees as interchangeable unless they treat customers the same way.

As a result, to many of our corporate clients, groundswell strategy seems like a step backwards. “You want us to deal with people as individuals?” they say. “We spent the last 30 years computerizing everything so we can avoid just that!”

Here’s the secret. When you start a groundswell project, you will be treating people as individuals. But very soon, you’ll be able to get economies of scale. How? By enlisting those same customers.

For example, Dell told us (the story’s in Chapter 8 of Groundswell) that when they started their most recent support forum, 1999, they knew they’d need moderators. They pulled 30 support reps off the phones and converted them into forum moderators. Those support reps answered questions online, just as they had been on the phone.

Already, Dell was getting more efficiencies, since each answer could be read by dozens or hundreds of other people searching for it on their support forum.

Now, five years later, the support forum is many times larger than it was then. And the number of moderators is no longer 30. It’s five. And that’s because the members of the community are moderating it themselves.

I think this also is in concert with Tim O’Reilly, who provides thoughts on Web 2.0, and notes importantly, that:

Network effects from user contributions are the key to market dominance in the Web 2.0 era

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