A second Internet revolution? Not really...

While the cognoscenti call it Web 2.0, Gartner calls the next phase of the modern Internet (beginning circa 1995) the "second revolution.

While the cognoscenti call it Web 2.0, Gartner calls the next phase of the modern Internet (beginning circa 1995) the "second revolution." Instead of mashups, syndication and social media, Gartner’s analysts talk about micropayments, services and Web-enabled communities. They are both talking about the same thing—the Internet is continuing to evolve as the platform for every computing-related activity. It's a continuum, not a second revolution--perhaps a third wave, from pre- and post-bubble and now a new bubble or at least bit of frothiness. 

Speaking to the crowd of IT executives, Gartner analysts James Brancheau and Chuck Abrams didn’t talk about mashups, but described the business impact emerging from a shift in demographics and consumer behavior, combined with technological changes wrought by the Internet. By 2010, every business and organizational activity will revolve around the use of Web-based content and applications, Brancheau said. That’s not any news to the cognoscenti, but for the IT crowd it has some major implications—the old way versus the new way.

Companies of all sizes need to change the way they think about creating products and delivering them to markets, including niche markets riding the long tail. It's not just paying attention to open standards and service-oriented architectures. Tim O’Reilly highlights the core competencies of Web 2.0 companies as follows: 

Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability
Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use them
Trusting users as co-developers
Harnessing collective intelligence
Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service
Software above the level of a single device
Lightweight user interfaces, development models, AND business models

Gartner analysts predict that by 2008 the viral effects of Web-enabled communities of interest will bring have a profound effect on product launches, market development and brand equity. It's already happening all over the place today.

Gartner also predicts that by 2007, network-connected opinion leaders will emerge as personalized, trusted recommendation engines for the majority of web users. Again, we are seeing independent bloggers in all kinds of communities who are influencing their peers, corporations and governments. What's lacking are better mechanisms for managing attention, dealing with user data and having relevant information come to you. Search engines need to bring answers, not just links. Advertisements, which fund the Web, need to be personalized on a mass scale.

RSS helps with the attention problem, but that's just a beginning. Gartner coins another term, "techno-foragers"--who are experts at finding content and distributing it through various channels (e.g., RSS, IM, P2P) and social networks. Again, there is an entire generation growing up with that electronic community engagement as part of their daily habit. 

Microcommerce opportunities for new products and services less of than $5 will generate $30 billion in revenue per year by 2010. The iTunes stores is a good example of what's to come, including the battles over ownership, pricing and DRM. 

As Gartner's Chuck Abrams concluded, if you are thinking that you have the Web figured out, you should also consider that you could still be 'Amazoned'--meaning, look what happened to Barnes & Noble. There is no second coming of the Internet--it's been coming for the last 35 years. Nor is there any time for complacency...