Web 2.0 gains momentum in Europe, with companies looking for new ways to stay productive
LONDON – 26 May, 2009 – The year 2008 and economic downturn have changed the way companies are going about their daily business. In response to the current recession in Europe, businesses are seeking new ways to stay productive while significantly cutting costs with the help of Web 2.0 solutions. From lower-cost versions of enterprise applications, to utilising cloud computing, ‘crowd sourcing’ business owners are taking advantage of what Web 2.0 has to offer.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.conferencing.frost.com), Web 2.0 Technologies in the Recession-hit Europe as a Solution for Small and Medium Businesses, finds that Web 2.0 will supplement both Web and Audio-web markets that were valued at $190 million in Europe in 2008 and are likely to grow to $860 million by the end of 2014.
“Web 2.0 solutions may be part of the cure for the recessionary headache that many European businesses are now experiencing; social networking sites, wikis, and blogs are just some of the more well-known examples of Web 2.0 technologies that can play an important role here,” observes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Iwona Petruczynik. “These solutions are becoming more prevalent in the European small and medium businesses (SMBs) arena, especially at a time like this, when workers are being forced to do more with less.”
There has been an increase in the usage of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and other Web 2.0 solutions like Blogger and WordPress. Until recently, they were primarily associated with consumer applications; however, currently, they are finding usage in more professional areas.
“As an interesting side note, social networking sites are gaining popularity in unexpected places, for instance, the world’s most popular online virtual reality, Second Life, was used by Sweden to open their ‘embassy’ in the virtual world to promote Sweden’s culture and image,” remarks Petruczynik. “In addition, Second Life is used in the Polish Ministry of Interior and Administration, where the Ministry has a room, which a person can visit to find out what the Ministry is doing and even ask the Minister questions.”
However, experts are unable to agree on one definition of Web 2.0 and this becomes a challenge in defining its market size. Yet, it is unlikely that Web 2.0 will become a stand-alone market, as it is a set of technologies and ideas driving the development of existing products and services. The full potential influence of Web 2.0 is only now playing out, as the concepts and technologies are finding their use in manufacturing, customer service, product development and sales.
Innovative modes of interaction among workers, enabled by Web 2.0, contribute to company cohesion and employee retention. Telecommuting staff too can collaborate with each other speedily and effortlessly, outside of the formal e-mail stream.
Despite the evident advantages, some businesses are apprehensive about fully embracing Web 2.0 tools. The popularity of companies’ in-house intranet and concerns about security and confidential information leaks are just a few examples of the restraints faced by the European Web 2.0 market. Moreover, a culture of ‘busyness’ retards the adoption of Web 2.0. If employees are not seen working all the time, they are assumed to be inefficient and unprofessional, when, in fact, they could be conducting their business through utilising solutions such as blogs or social networking sites, like Twitter or LinkedIn. In addition, Europe tends to be more conservative in accepting new solutions. Therefore, the adoption rate of Web 2.0 in Europe is lower than that in the United States.
“In Europe, there is a common misconception that a true deliverable is measured in how many kilograms of paper one produces and hands over to a client,” explains Petruczynik. “This belief is hindering the adoption of Web 2.0 solutions, as more end products are being delivered in the form of a wiki or a blog.”
According to the European Commission, small and medium businesses (SMBs) constitute 99.0 per cent of all enterprises in Europe and provide almost 75.0 million jobs. With such significant market potential, Web 2.0 vendors should not have problems with deploying their solutions in the SMB sector.
“The best practice for those employing Web 2.0 solutions include creating and implementing clear and easy policies, describing how to use social media to avoid security risks, and leaks of confidential information, adapting their corporate culture to promote openness and collaboration, and educating employees on how to use Web 2.0 tools to become more productive and efficient,” concludes Petruczynik. “On the other hand, Web 2.0 vendors should help in creating supportive policies, providing seamless integration with existing advanced corporate communication tools, and offering a variety of ‘a la carte’ Web 2.0 technologies.”
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Web 2.0 Technologies in the Recession-hit Europe as a Solution for Small and Medium Businesses is part of the Conferencing & Collaboration Growth Partnership Services programme, which also includes research in the following markets: web conferencing, audio conferencing, video conferencing, telepresence, unified communications and collaboration market. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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Web 2.0 Technologies in the Recession-hit Europe as a Solution for Small and Medium Businesses