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The term Web 2.0 is associated with a new generation of applications and services which allow users of the internet to communicate with each other, share information, and also do business in new ways. Nowadays websites do not only contain static information, they make it possible for people to collaborate, share information, and create new services online. ((Laundon and Laundon 2007). The term web 2.0 came from Tim O' Reilly and Dale Dougherty in 2004. Tim 0' Reilly's definition of Web 2.0 is;
"Web 2.0 is the network as a platform, spanning all connected devices; web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform; delivering software as a continually - updated service that gets better the more people use it , consuming and mixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an 'architecture of participation; and going beyond the page metaphor of web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences" (O' Reilly 2004)
The main components which are associated with web 2.0 consist of Blogs, Wikis, social bookmarking, Multimedia sharing, social networking, RRS, podcasting and mashups. A Blog which is a popular term for a weblog which allows users to publish stories, opinions, and links to other websites of interest. A blog can be seen as an online journal or diary; these are often hosted on a third party website. The important feature about blogs is that they allow readers to leave comments on individual entries. A Wiki on the other hand is a collaborative website which allows users to add, delete or change the content on the site. A well known example of a Wiki is Wikipedia, which is an online encyclopaedia which allows anyone to contribute, as they can create and edit entries. Another component of Web 2.0 is social bookmarking which allows internet users to manage lists of bookmarks that can be shared with others. These lists are often stored online so that people can access them from any location and they can easily be shared. Multimedia sharing describes services by which users can share photographs, videos, and other types of media. For example on Facebook users can publish photographs, videos and articles to share with other people. Social networking sites allow users to create profiles online which can be linked to those of other members. These profiles can contain different things such as music, blog entries, video clips, photographs, and pages with information about themselves. Examples of social networking sites include MySpace which encourages people to interact with each other. RRS (Really Simple Syndication) is a specification for publishing documents which contain information which is regularly updated, such as news stories. Information which is published in RRS format is called a feed, and these can be read using an up to date web browser or an RRS feeder. Podcasting involves sharing media files using the internet in the same way as RRS feeds. Most podcasts are audio files in MP3 format and so are compatible with media players such as iPods. Mashups are web applications which mix data from several different sources to create an entirely new service or application. The term Mashup has become popular in web 2.0 sites that combine the features or functions of one website with another. The most common mashups involve maps, but there are also video, photo, search, shopping and news mashups. The data used to create a Mashup is typically obtained from a third party website such as Microsoft or Google.
One way in which web 2.0 is used in modern business is associated with advertising. Since internet users have become more sophisticated, business have found that the old and traditional approaches to advertising are no longer appropriate and so have looked for new ways to advertise. For example Google AdWords has become a popular method of advertising. Whenever a search is carried out using Google, a series of sponsored links are shown next to the search results. These links depend on the search term used and advertisers pay to associate particular words with their advertisements. For example Topshop use Google AdWords as a way of promoting themselves, words such as 'fashion' when typed into Google will bring up a link to Topshop. Another way in which Topshop makes use of web 2.0 is through their Blog, where top shop shares the latest news, events, photos and fashion with their customers. It is a "place to share all the things we find inspiring" (insideout.topshop). People can comment on the entries made, sharing their opinions, and interact with each other. A new way in which Topshop is using web 2.0 is through their latest Topshop radio, "the perfect way to get our in store vibe from the comfort of your own home" (Topshop). This is similar to a podcast where media files are shared an updated every couple of weeks. People can listen to the radio on their IPods if they wanted to. This shows how Web 2.0 allows businesses to communicate and interact more with their customers, web 2.0 provides much more of a social environment and provides new innovative ways of doing business with customers. Topshop is also on Facebook, a social networking website, where they can connect with their customers. "Here you'll get to hear about the latest news and trends and have the opportunity to get involved with some exciting happenings" (Facebook, Topshop). People can become fans of Topshop on Facebook, and can use the wall to leave comments on items of clothing they like, leave reviews, view and comment on the pictures. Top shop can advertise their promotions such as student discount and make people aware of what's new in stock etc.
The value chain model highlights specific activities in the business where competitive strategies can best be applied (Porter 1985). These activities can either be primary activities or support activities for example sales and marketing is a primary activity, and as mentioned before Web 2.0 brings a new attitude towards how business promote their products. It is likely that the internet will be used more in the future to advertise and connect with the customers; this adds value in terms of the value chain models as advertising online and through social networking sites which is becoming increasingly popular. Furthermore it is said that By 2012, "Facebook will become the hub for social network integration and web socialisation" (Gartner 2010). This could help the business value chain as surveys and questionnaires can be completed through such sites saving businesses money and also helping the environment. According to Gartner the total number of computers being used will reach 1.78 billion units in 2013. (Gartner 2010) This means more people will use the internet and internet shopping will also continue to grow, helping business to save costs. Support activities on the other hand make the delivery of the primary activities possible, for example human recourses is a support activity, the increased use of Facebook and other social networking sites could fit into the value chain in terms of human recourses through using these social networking sites to filter job applications.