Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide: Business thinking and strategies behind successful Web 2.0 implementations. Hardcover – May 3 2008
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About the Author
Amy Shuen is an internationally recognized authority on Silicon Valley business models and innovation economics, frequent speaker at industry conferences and venture capital events, award-winning strategy researcher. She's taught high tech entrepreneurship, strategy and venture finance to MBAs, technical professionals and executives at Wharton UPenn, Haas school of Business at UC Berkeley, San Jose State University, CEIBS (China Europe International Business SChool) and Ecole des Ponts and Ecole Polytechnique (France).
Top Customer Reviews
The book seems to be targeting marketing managers and business owners who rely on outside sources or other departments to research and implement these services. Amy Shuen provides a clear understanding of these concepts to those needing it.
One of the best resources of the book is the end-notes. The references that Amy cites gives the reader a great starting point to find more in depth material about specific topics.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I found the book bland and disappointing, and found--when discussing Amazon, for example, the book reads more like an advertisement and has no clue on all the stuff Amazon is not doing (see the comment for two URLs), such as microtext for micro-cash, creating global intelligence councils on poverty and every other topic using top authors, and creating local citizen intelligence minutemen who can do real-time observation in the context of Amazon's excellent S3 cloud, which is in my view operating at less than 10% of its potential because Bezos has two things on his mind: outerspace and Kindle.
The end notes and the bibliography are the best part of the book. The index stinks. 7 pages for a 214 page book, should have been at least 14--it was an afterthought and done badly.
Better books on Web 2.0 and Generation 2.0 include:
Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies
Mobilizing Generation 2.0: A Practical Guide to Using Web2.0 Technologies to Recruit, Organize and Engage Youth
Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
Better books on the larger scheme of things:
Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
New World New Mind Changing the Way We
Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge
The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace
Sample this profligate plethora of acronyms and hypewords: Long tail. Network effects. Collaborative innovation. Web to wealth. Freemium. Collective user value. Leapfrog link. Competence syndication. Competence capitalization. Online recombinant innovation.
Rambling paragraphs interspersed with 'back-of-the-napkin' style charts, authoritative-looking links, economic terms interspersed with catchphrases are thrown in, and then on to the next topic. Scoot and shoot. Rinse and repeat.
What is most disappointing is that firstly, the topic of Web 2.0 is much, much more engrossing, exciting, and fascinating than the book suggests, and secondly, the author may in fact be capable of writing a book that does her and the topic justice.
Web 2.0 - the moniker given to the combination of technology enabled rich internet applications, collaborative user experiences like wikis, folksonomies, and more - has changed the way most people experience and expect the web to be. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Wikipedia, YouTube, blogs are all examples of Web 2.0 based companies.
What is less clear is whether Web 2.0, despite all its newness, hype, and substance, is only an incremental step in the path of the continual evolution of the web, or whether it represents a substantially, and fundamentally, different way of doing business and interacting on the internet.
This book is an attempt to try and make sense of Web 2.0. The book is short enough that it can be read in a couple of hours, is written for the average user and does not get into technical details or intimidating equations at any point. It has a very long list of references, which do add a lot of value to the book.
Upon reading the book, you are faced with a constant barrage of disappointment, irritation, and finally a feeling of having wasted a good two hours of your time.
Tim O'Reilly has written the Foreword, and the best he has to say about the book is that (added stars mine) "It's the first book that really does justice to **my** ideas". The author makes sure to reciprocate in kind, thanking O'Reilly 'for championing this project and seeing **its breakthrough potential**'.
The purpose of the book seems to be to equip the reader with an arsenal of buzzwords. It is not what you know, but what you can pretend to know.
Sample these snippets:
-- "Second, even recent M.B.A.s have a hard time pulling together all the necessary pieces of the Web 2.0 business model" - many a Web 1.0 company went down the tube because of MBAs pretending to know how to run technology startups.
-- "...how a shift as small as XML separating content from form..." - XML and XHTML were small shifts???? The author is either trying to be cute, or has a zero understanding of the importance of this shift.
-- "Web 2.0 companies have figured out a profitable path to growth" - really???? No evidence cited, no names, no revenue or financial statements. Just the evidence of an opinion is offered.
-- And finally, sample this: "You will learn about how to make money by monetizing the network effects..." - all in two hours of lightweight reading.
Assertions are made throughout the book, but without much by way of explanation, reasoning, or substantiation. Take the example of Flickr, which is the first Web 2.0 company described in some detail in the first chapter itself:
-- Flickr's business model is described as "freemium", but no details or numbers.
-- In the section on 'Calcuating Company Value', there is utter confusion: a number of $20 per user over a 3-5 year period for Flickr is arrived at by estimating the price that Yahoo paid to acquire Flickr in 2005. But that is distinct from how much real money was actually coming into the company. Valuation is NOT the same as revenue - a point painfully lost on the author. Look at it this way: Google has a valuation of $100+ billion. But it does NOT make $100b in revenues, or profits, or cash flow. This 'method' of valuation is no different than what was practiced during the Web 1.0 dot-com bubble. What exactly is Web 2.0-ish about this valuation?
And before the discussion on valuation can get complicated, the focus quickly shifts to Netflix. Scoot and shoot.
The chapter on network effects is an improvement, with a short but reasonably acceptable description of network effects and the marginal/average/total cost function.
But here again, what is not explained is why the classic aggregate adoption 'S-curve' should be labeled differently for Web 2.0, nor why the product adoption bell curve should have a closed chasm (Geoffrey Moore - Crossing the Chasm) in the world of Web 2.0, except by stating that "free viral closes the gap". How does "free viral" close the gap? No explanation. Shoot and scoot.
There is further confusion when the author states in the paragraph titled "Avoiding the chasm" that "Product cost is a classic adoption barrier" - Moore certainly did NOT list cost as a major adoption barrier.
Chapter 3, "People Build Consensus" covers social networking, specifically Facebook and LinkedIn - two companies targeting different, but slightly overlapping parts of the social network demographic spectrum. The description of the 'six degrees' effect is described well enough. Other very pertinent and useful concepts and theories are mentioned, like 'Diffusion of Innovation' and the 'Bass model'.
What is, again, irritating is the needless repetition of sentences. "By mid-2005, requests for introductions had reached 25,000, and acceptance rates had increased slightly to 87%.", and in the very next section, the same is repeated, almost ad verbatim, "In mid-2005, LinkedIn announced that monthly requests were 25,000 and acceptance rates were at 87%." Why? Why?? Why??! Wouldn't the reader remember what he had read just a paragraph or two back?
How exactly does "frequent interaction builds community, trust..."? Take the author's word.
Save your money for something actually useful.
If you aren't a techie, Web 2.0 probably doesn't mean much to you. You might think it is just the "next version" of the Internet or just a new way of doing things online -- such as blogging, video, etc. In this the book the author shows you that Web 2.0 is so much more than the "what" -- it's actually mostly about the "how".
How can a business -- be it IBM or your one-man home-based operation -- benefit from new advances and developments online? How can you change your way of thinking about business to take advantage of the power of communities that are popping up all over the Internet? How can you learn from others, such as Amazon and Flickr, who made major changes to their business models and discovered new ways of doing business?
If you want another book on geek tech, then this book isn't for you. If you own your own business, or are just merely an employee looking for innovative ways of getting things done, this book is for you. I have no doubt that there will be people who read this book who will have an "Aha!" moment and transform the Internet even more. I learned so much from this book that it is difficult to just pick one or two main points to focus on.
When you are done with this book you'll understand how revolutions and evolutions on the Internet have changed the way we do business -- from online to offline. You'll also better understand how social networks play such a crucial role in everyday life and how they are turning traditional business models on their head.
You owe it to yourself to read this book -- your take on business will never be the same afterwards.
On a side note, I noticed that the author gets away from explaining why sites like YouTube work (maybe because the author cannot provide strong reasons of an economic model other than Google keeping it's relevance by owning traffic).
The book doesn't go into technicalities or spend time on design matters as they typically appear in Web 2.0 applications today: as a matter of fact, it abstracts itself from look and feel of the sites analyzed, focusing on how the different sites make money.
The result is a five step action plan that starts with building on collective user value (users no longer are mere consumers of content, but rather active contributors and creators); activating network effects (seeking the ways in which a business can leverage the multiple connections between the layers, places and groups and how they can grow your offering); working through social networks (the fundamental building block of the Web 2.0 economy); dynamically syndicating competence (picking your battles and doing what you do best faster, making it accessible to more people); and recombining innovations (looking for ways to connect the online with the offline, the new with the old).
The result is a book that is highly recommended if you are looking to take your business to the next level of the social web: a place where being social is not merely an option but a requirement.
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