The Web this decade and what it means for your organisation

I'm a fortunate geek. I got to chair the 6UK launch back in November, with keynote by Vint Cerf – fondly referred to as one of the fathers of the Internet. And on Monday this week, I chaired Profiting From The New Web at the Royal Society with keynote by Sir Tim Berners-Lee – inventor of the World Wide Web. How cool is that?!

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, New Web, London, 23rd May 2011

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, New Web, London, 23rd May 2011 (courtesy Intellect)

I worked with the Web Science Trust and Intellect to design this week's conference, and we set ourselves this mission:

Discover new and better ways to do business, run our countries, and lead fulfilling and sustainable lives via the intelligent, innovative and diligent development of the New Web, and to make progress faster than otherwise.

Web Innovation

The term Web 1.0 is applied retrospectively to a Web of documents and ecommerce. The term Web 2.0 has come to describe social community and user-generated content. The New Web – the Web of Data or the Semantic Web, and sometimes Web 3.0 – entails the Web itself understanding the meaning of that participation and content.

A component of the Web of Data, known as Open Data, encompasses the idea of freeing data so that others may query it, check and challenge it, augment it, and mash it up with other sources. Sir Tim is particularly motivated by this vision given its potential to drive scientific breakthrough, enhance delivery of public services and open up new frontiers for competitive advantage.

You might like to watch Sir Tim Berners-Lee deliver a 5 minute update on Open Data in a 2010 TED Talk:

Your organisation needs to get to grips with such technological innovations, but that's not the only fluency you need in order to navigate the opportunities, and the risks. The conference covered issues of privacy, trust and provenance, mobility, agility and security, social analytics, journalism, content and brand journalism. We touched upon poor public policy endangering Internet neutrality (without dissension as it happens – perhaps given the weight of authority of those at the conference in favour of neutrality), the ethics of social analytics, the balancing of CRM (customer relationship management) with VRM (vendor relationship marketing), the Internet of Things, Internet governance, and the expectations and unknowns relating to the imminent connection of the majority of mankind still, as of 2011, unconnected.

We hosted speakers from Southampton University / Web Science Trust (Dame Professor Wendy Hall and Professor Nigel Shadbolt), IBM,, News International, Microsoft, the Cabinet Office, the London School of Economics, the Media Standards Trust, Radian6, Nominet and many more.

Knowing the right questions

The Web is changing faster than ever. You might have a website that ranks highly in terms of usability and accessibility; you might facilitate your customers conversing and transacting with you over the Web; you might be on LinkedIn and have yourself a Facebook page. But equally, your organisation is probably as far forward in understanding yet alone implementing facets of the New Web as it was implementing Web 1.0 back in, say, 1998.

Yet you will appreciate now the advantage secured by those early to Web 1.0, even if that was in terms of learning mistakes all the faster and advantageously. Well, what are you waiting for now?

Having just the one day, the New Web conference was as much about helping delegates appreciate some of the questions they should be asking, that they should be challenging their organisations with, as it was hinting at some of the answers. This is a complex area, and the more you dig into it the more you appreciate the drivers behind the creation of Web Science as an academic endeavour. And yet the conference title deliberately prefixes "The New Web" with "Profiting From" because whilst government and non-profits can profit, there's plenty to excite business too. Now.

If, like me, you sense opportunity here, now's the time to find out more. And this applies whether you work in the public, private or third sector. The Web Science Trust is a very good place to start (particularly if you're interested in sponsoring future events). I write about some of these innovations and issues in chapters 4 (social analytics) and 8 (mobile, Internet of Things, privacy, Semantic Web) of The Business of Influence, and please get in touch if you think I can help.

Watch out for follow-up events to this week's conference. I'll be blogging here and tweeting of course.

Fundamentally, if your (medium to global) organisation has no-one conversant in the topics raised in this blog post, then you have, quite simply, a governance and / or leadership shortfall.

Video and photographs



Philip Sheldrake and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, New Web, London, 23rd May 2011

Philip Sheldrake and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, New Web, London, 23rd May 2011 (courtesy Intellect)


Dame Professor Wendy Hall, New Web, London, 23rd May 2011

Dame Professor Wendy Hall, New Web, London, 23rd May 2011 (courtesy Intellect)


Professor Nigel Shadbolt, New Web, London, 23rd May 2011

Professor Nigel Shadbolt, New Web, London, 23rd May 2011 (courtesy Intellect)


Philip Sheldrake, New Web, London, 23rd May 2011

Philip Sheldrake, New Web, London, 23rd May 2011 (courtesy Intellect)