What 2.0 Really Means: Two-Directional Communication

Updated: June 03, 2009

That's all well and good, but I think it misses the point. I was speaking to Matthew Greeley, the CEO of BrightIdea, when the real definition of 2.0 technology struck me. (BrightIdea, by the way, works in what might be called the Innovation 2.0 space - and I'll explain what that means in a second).

In reality, in all these scenarios, the 2.0 stands for something very simple that unites many of these ideas, and it has nothing to do with a new "version" of any of them. The 2.0, I believe, indicates the direction ideas and data flow in any of these ideas - there are now two directions to CRM, to sales, to running your company, to innovation. Both sides of the equation are equally important, and both have input into the final result of any transaction.

A great example is BrightIdea, which markets tools for allowing customer input to influence product development. Innovation is quietly gaining importance again (I'll write later about the "innovation cycle" that our economy goes through; it's an interesting pattern that underlays a lot of the more obvious economic indicators), and companies are realizing that having unique products based on what customers really want is a massive competitive advantage. So, should this all come from a laboratory hidden away on a corporate campus - or should companies tap into their customers, who are already making great suggestions? BrightIdea helps rationalize this process and provides a process to allow it to happen - in essence, opening that second channel of communication back into the company from the customer.

CRM 2.0 is very similar - it's about the customer conversation and actually listening to it. Almost comedically, many companies only realized that listening was a good idea because bad things were being said about them; pain often motivates action. But smart organizations realize that by becoming part of the conversation (and not just eavesdropping) they can build better relationships with consumers, and by actually listening they can play an authentic role in the conversation that will foster the loyalty and repeat sales that CRM has been promising for a long time.

Sales 2.0 is an environment created by the customer's ability to know as much as the salesperson thanks to the Internet - suddenly, sales becomes a two-way channel. Sales rep who choose to remain ignorant of the new power of the customer are going to become increasingly impotent; sales pros who get it, who look at their companies in the same way of companies, and are prepared to communicate on a more honest and fact-based level are going to thrive - and build better relationships with their customers.

Even Business 2.0 fits this pattern. Business 2.0 gets away from the top-down hierarchy and begins to view contributions and decisions from around the organization as increasingly important. The 1.0 way - one voice, telling the rest of the organization what to do - is becoming a thing of the past.

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