Welcome to Web 3.0

We’ve entered a new stage in the evolution of the Internet.

September 26, 2011

Remember Web 1.0? It was a rather sudden and explosive public availability of discrete information delivered electronically. Countless Web pages suddenly were accessible on the Internet through hyperlinks.

Professional authors, groups, and organizations created content based on what they thought target audi­ences wanted. Users simply read information by using various search methods.

Web 1.0 delivered a wealth of information quickly to any location that had an Internet connection. But it offered limited content with limited creativity and usefulness. It wasn’t always easy to find, and it had limited impact and introduced related security issues.

Next up: Web 2.0. An extension of information available through the Internet, Web 2.0 added interaction, participation, and feedback. Now content authors could make informa­tion more useful and appropriate. Content was produced not only by pro­fessional authors, but by anyone interested in a topic.

As technology improved, with added functionality and greater capacity, more people contributed and moved beyond simply finding and retrieving information. Social media, with blogs and then entire social networks, meant the Web provided not only content and tools for knowledge management, but also more focus on people and what they really wanted. Now content was limited only by who participated, by how much, and by the limits of their creativity.

For credit unions, Web 2.0 allowed online posting of rates, branch locations, hours, and other information. It allowed credit unions to gauge a web­site’s usefulness to members and to more effectively understand and meet members’ needs.

Now we’re moving to Web 3.0. This latest step in the evolution of the Internet brings methods to:

  • Manage online participation;
  • Provide better tools to combine con­tent and deliver it through intelligent decision-making applications; and
  • Reach and involve more people, potentially with more relevance.

One example is the Facebook open graph platform, which allows third-party developers to integrate with Facebook either through applications or other websites. It supports development not only on Facebook, but also across various websites and devices.

Web 3.0 uses “semantic technology”—combining information from many sources on the Web in real time, across all business channels and social media. Predictive modeling anticipates what a person might be interested in or benefit from, or the reason for a member’s call. It allows more detailed comparisons with competitors’ products.

This allows credit unions to respond to members’ needs often before they realize the needs themselves. It promotes more meaningful and productive member interactions, less member attrition, and more cross-sales success.

The technology:

  • Allows social media interaction, such as blog entries, to target people for marketing purposes;
  • Improves search results for people looking for anything related to credit unions;
  • Helps attract people looking for products and services the credit union offers or can provide; and
  • Generates more traffic to specific pages on the credit union’s website.

In addition to identifying people’s needs, Web 3.0 also can measure how they feel about products, services, or organizations. It captures their responses expressed in blogs, posts, and other Web applications, instead of simply tracing their website clicks and survey responses.

Organizations can use this tracked information to target product offerings, marketing messages, and member service responses. They can also assemble attributes of people to create customized Web pages that not only provide much more relevant content, but also reduce the time and cost of developing less specialized Web pages.

Web 3.0 automates processes that many credit unions have performed manually and less productively. It allows some smaller credit unions to expand into new product and service offerings that they couldn’t offer without the new technology.

Of course, Web 3.0 also introduces new security concerns and other risks—a topic for another column. But the era of Web 3.0 is upon us, bringing new challenges to our industry and new benefits to our members.

ROBERT REH is chief information officer at Nassau Financial FCU, Westbury, N.Y., and vice chair of the CUNA Technology Council. Contact him at 516-240-1257. For more information about CUNA Councils, visit cunacouncils.org.