The ever-present and seemingly omniscient Jeremiah Owyang has authored another report from Forrester well worth reading. “The Future of the Social Web,” was released to Forrester clients on April 27. You can purchase the report or become a client on their website.
Owyang, along with editors and co-authors Josh Bernoff, Cynthia Pflaum and Emily Bowen, essentially cover the immediate future of the social web to which businesses need to focus with regard to OpenID. The report surmises, in essence, that today’s customer and business experience is frustrating because profile information varies from site to service and beyond. OpenID platforms like Facebook Connect offer data portability for individual identities. Essentially, you log in to one network and it carries your credentials through to other networks and unifies your social footprint.
This concept is important because, as the report asserts, the social experience will become more streamlined, simple and user-friendly. Consumers will continue to count on one another for recommendations and product information and the connected web through OpenID-like technologies will allow people to cast wider nets and make more informed buying decisions.
Owyang predicts this connected web will enable brands, websites and networks to customize the consumer experience across the web, utilities like email will be absorbed into social networks and, by 2012 online communities will be, “the driving force for innovation.” The connected consumer then, becomes the center of power in the business equation.
The insights brought forth are the result of research done with companies including Google, Intel, Facebook, MySpace, OpenID Foundation and Dell. There were 24 total companies interviewed, so this isn’t just Owyang pontificating. While I can certainly see each of these predictions coming true, I don’t think the time line for majority adoption the report is accurate. Yes, there will be a good number of communities driving innovation for tech-related companies. (There already are a few.) But I would hesitate to predict “all” or even “most” is feasible.
Perhaps living on the cutting edge of technology and marketing as Forrester does as a research firm blurs their vision a bit from the reality. Even brands considered to be on the forefront of innovation in their respective categories (most CPG companies, financial institutions, insurance companies and other regulated industries) aren’t even dipping their toes into social media successfully. How then can we expect them to be innovating through a connected web of empowered consumers in two years?
Not that we won’t get there at some point. Just not that soon.
And, of course, I don’t have months of research to back up my assertions. That’s what people like Jeremiah and the Forrester team are here for.
If you are a Forrester client, you should go download the report. If you’re not, you can still pay for it online and download a copy. (Though I have always thought Forrester reports were a bit pricey. This one is almost $800.) But it certainly gives us some good guidelines and milestones to keep in mind in the years to come as our social experience gets smarter and is probably well worth the spend for many a marketing manager.
One final note on the report. I had a few conversations about it with some friends in the social media space. Owyang’s work has been both prolific and insightful since joining the Forrester team but often gets shrugged off by those of us who live and breathe in this world. I would caution my brethren to keep in mind that Jeremiah doesn’t work for us. He works for Forrester and its clients, most of whom probably don’t, “get it.” For them, this is great work, solid research and insightful background. And for those of us who get our hands on the reports, it’s also fantastic reinforcements. Nice work, J.
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- The Future of the Social Web: In Five Eras (blogs.forrester.com)
- Social CRM: When Registration Pages Go Extinct (web-strategist.com)
- Facebook Announces Users Will Soon Be Able to Login to Facebook Via OpenID (insidefacebook.com)
- Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect (darrenmothersele.com)
- The War of the Universal Login (impl.emented.com)