- “… on the Web, most people are bozos and not worth listening to.”
- “The most-hyped site right now, Facebook, is the ‘Iron Chef‘ of the Internet. The Iron Chef competition makes for great TV, but has nothing to do with running a restaurant as a successful business.”
- “Marketing managers won’t remain clueless forever. Sooner or later they’ll discover that Web advertising offers almost no ROI.”
The big question for me when it comes to evaluating the adoption of RIA/Web 2.0 features is not so much usability (though that should be a baseline consideration, of course), but whether they positively reinforce or improve upon the existing service model. Which raises the question: How do you identify your site’s or application’s service model? This is not as obvious as it might seem. Saying that a site is an “intranet,” for example, identifies the type of user experience involved, but that’s not the same thing as identifying the service model informing that experience.
To get at the distinction: a public library could follow the traditional service model for libraries by making books, CDs, DVDs, etc. available for check-out and by providing traditional face-to-face reference service, childrens’ storytimes, adult programming etc. Or it could adopt the new “Library 2.0” service model, which leverages Web 2.0 technologies and social networking tools to enable patrons to provide more immediate and continuous feedback to librarians. This approach enables the librarians to tailor their collection development plans, programs and services to patrons’ current, expressed needs, rather than having to monitor circulation, traffic and program attendance statistics over the course of the year in order to infer later on what those needs might be. The difference here is between a service model that takes a primarily passive approach to making products and resources available (and which requires a lot of guesswork and legwork on the part of the librarians), versus a more proactive and participatory model that invites patrons to help drive the purchasing and decision-making processes.
If you work on a company intranet it might be worth asking whether that site’s service model is a more or less top-down and passive one of “making the resources available to whoever’s interested in them,” or one that lets the users dictate (to whatever degree) what resources and services the site serves up. If you’re looking to move from the former to the latter model, Web 2.0-style applications are definitely worth considering, given the clear potential they have–as even Nielsen grudgingly admits–for leveraging humans’ natural impulse to engage in social networks. If you can successfully tie those social networking activities back in to the timely delivery of resources, tools and information on your intranet, then you’re well on your way to improving its service model.