In carrying on from my discussion of Web 2.0 ‘ web two – I embrace you‘, I wanted to briefly discuss some of the implications of Web 2.0 on your business. In general, Web 2.0 (pronounced two-point-oh) refers to a maturing of the Internet, the next version of the web. To be more specific, Web 2.0 has taken all the components that initially made the Internet such a powerful medium and has improved upon it.

Since its conception, the Internet has been spouted as a powerful platform for communication and it didn’t take long for the world to see its potential. Just look at the adoption rate of the hugely popular email service provider Hotmail, arguably the most ground breaking web-based email service provider in history and it was totally free. Launched in 1996, Hotmail reportedly had 8.5 million subscribers by the time it was sold to Microsoft in December 1997. By February 1999, membership grew to over 30 million and today it boasts 380 million users worldwide in it’s latest incarnation ( Windows Live Hotmail).

One profound development that has come about with the progression of web technologies is the capacity for real-time interaction and engagement – and Web 2.0 is all about two-way conversations. This means that companies are more effectively in touch with their customers, and can receive their almost real-time feed back through the web. In line with today’s bottom-up business philosophy, consumers are now telling their brands what they want directly. To paraphrase David Dyer, president and chief executive officer of one of the world’s leading online retail company, Lands’ End Inc.brands are not bought through million-dollar ads. They are built through millions of customer interactions and developed over time. People don’t buy brands, they join them – so feedback is of the greatest importance.

Technologies such as blogs; VOIP; wikis; podcasts; RSS feeds; social software; web application programming interfaces ( APIs); and online web services such as eBay, provide a significant enhancement over read-only websites.

For business owners, Web 2.0 means more opportunities and better tools for running your business. No matter what type of business you run, you need to be using technology to your advantage. I won’t presume to tell you that Web 2.0 is right for your business, but I can tell you it’s something to be aware of. Ignoring it means ignoring a possible tool that could be valuable in helping you get more customers.