Web 2.0: Don't forget the business risks

Web 2.0: Don't forget the business risks

Summary: Web 2.0--or its business cousin Enterprise 2.0--sounds great on the surface.

TOPICS: Browser

Web 2.0--or its business cousin Enterprise 2.0--sounds great on the surface. Who doesn't like lightweight applications, users who become de facto developers and content creators and authentic market intelligence? Businesses would be silly to not jump head first into these newfangled technologies right? Not so fast. There are big risks to companies both large and small and few are paying attention.

That's the message from Drew Bartkiewicz, vice president of technology and new media markets, The Hartford. Sure, Bartkiewicz, speaking at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York, works for a staid insurer, but he's spent 18 years in software and social marketing at BroadVision, Salesforce.com and United Technologies. He has been through Web 1.0 to 2.0 and everything in between. And his latest gig gives him some unique context: An insurer makes a living assessing risks. And there are big risks associated with these new technologies and few are thinking them through.

Think all of this Web 2.0 data--personal information, user content and behavioral targeting--is just an asset? Think again. It's a liability too.

More information means more data can be breached. Companies large and small could find themselves vulnerable to information malpractice. Meanwhile, viral marketing isn't all positive. Companies can have their reputations shredded and find themselves with little control over their brands. And do companies have a way for folks to change their social graph? Just think of the cringeworthy content those Millennials will have on the Web a decade from now when they are job hunting.

"There’s a digital hangover for people just throwing information out there putting everything online. They still think they have this sense of control. They are all public F-ing record," said Bartkiewicz, referring to Web 2.0 fans that put their entire lives online. Bartkiewicz added that Web 2.0 companies need to begin thinking about how they protect their users' history, opinions and social networks. "It's a necessary thing for Web 2.0 to enable self government. Don't let users do silly things. Don't let harmful acts unnoticed. Quality of privacy and security is fundamental to the retention."

Could a user with a wayward social graph sue a company later? You bet. Bartkiewicz noted that Web 2.0 case law is just beginning.

Bartkiewicz is so convinced that these risks need to be highlighted that he's writing a book called "Unseen Liability" due to launch next year. The point: Web 2.0 is either the sunrise of massive personalization or sunset on personal privacy.

Topic: Browser

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  • Great article!

    How do social networking sites like 'efactor.com' fit into this entire scenario?
  • RE: Web 2.0: Don't forget the business risks

    "Don???t let users do silly things. Don???t let harmful acts unnoticed."

    Sounds like Bartkiewicz is advocating a Big Brother attitude when it comes to online expression. We all do and say stupid things when we are young. The difference is that now there is a record of your stupidity, if you choose to post it online. Educating web users about consequences is better than restricting what content can be posted online. Where do you draw the line? When does it become blatant and outright censorship? And who decides the standards for governance?

    No, I disagree with Mr Bartkiewicz. Risk is inherent to any data collection system.
  • RE: Web 2.0: Don't forget. Not Big Brother, but common sense.

    This is not about Big Brother, it is about protecting your users and your business. Most well run social sites allow their users to identify "bad actors" such that the environment does not lose its element of trust and security. Enforcing your terms of use, privacy policy, and educating users about socialo data best practices is what was meant by the term "don't let." It is suggesting self-governance (site and users together) as opposed to regulation and litigation.
  • RE: Web 2.0: Don't forget the business risks

    The article makes some good points about protecting
    privacy and being conscientious about when and how we
    collect and store private data.

    However, I disagree with the implication that
    businesses should avoid Web 2.0 or social media
    initiatives out of concerns about risks to your brand.
    A good reputation is not something you start with, it
    is something you earn. If you are not establishing
    your good reputation online today, you have no way to
    defend against negative stories about your company or
    yourself in the future. The best defense is in the
    strong relationships you build over time online and
    offline. This holds true for both businesses and
    individuals. These new tools can work for us or
    against us; it is important that all of us learn how
    to conduct ourselves in this new public arena.

    Scott Dodds
  • RE: Web 2.0: Don't forget the business risks

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