“Web 2.0 to Distraction”

by Blake D. Craig

Over the last six months, we’ve seen a flood of new internet based applications. Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo have turned out new web applications at a daunting pace. These new applications offer improved usability and user experience, but fail to address the core business processes that business leaders demand to drive bottom line growth.

Recently we were invited to test drive Microsoft’s latest offering “Microsoft Office Live.” Microsoft’s latest offering is aimed at providing SMB’s with a feature rich project management tool, providing a collaborative environment for sharing resources. While still in the beta stage, the toolset offered by this free application is truly phenomenal.

While all of these new “Web 2.0” applications appear glamorous, the question begs “are they effective?” Contrary to popular opinion, these new applications offer little more than additional marketing reach for their developers. The concept of free services, supported by advertiser backed ad placement, appears cost effective to adopting companies. An up front cost of $0 is hard to beat. But what about costs over time? What about future expansion and customized configuration? What about reliability and scalability?

Unfortunately, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo have succumbed to a war of “features and benefits”, rather than providing truly effective applications. Microsoft’s latest offering, “Microsoft Live Office”, is the perfect example of feature overload. The application provides such a broad set of tools that it quickly becomes cumbersome, distracting, and ineffective. In an attempt to provide an application that can be used by all companies, they have developed an application that is not effective for any company.

End users may find the rich feature sets attractive and inviting, but management will not realize returns on the broad range of available options. It is essential for any CEO or Director to focus on understanding core functions that will promote business process and realize positive returns on investment. Complicated and cumbersome solutions distract focus from solving the underlying simple process requirements.

Effective solutions are developed and implemented by recognizing and evaluating core business processes. In today’s highly competitive business environment, effective leaders must see beyond marketing subterfuge, understand core business needs, and implement simple solutions that drive bottom line results.