Expectations 2.0

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Content Copyright © 2009 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: The Norfolk Punt

Every so often one needs to take a reality check. In my case, it was a month in Australia with relatives and an insight into why the UK health system is a good idea and why Web 2.0… well, isn’t quite all it’s cracked up to be.

Whatever Web 2.0 is, it seems to be, in part anyway, about storing everything on web servers and accessing it via browsers. The expectation is that everything is available everywhere and therefore that deadlines don’t go away when one is on holiday.

Whatever that means for work/life balance (I like my work, so I’m not complaining) it simply isn’t an expectation you can safely base a business on. Hong Kong airport has great broadband—but I couldn’t find any power points for my laptop. Australia is a first-world country with broadband everywhere but free broadband at a burger chain doesn’t really deliver when you try to use it with something as “demanding” as Gmail or Flickr. Congestion, I suspect—reading email was fine, posting documents all but impossible. So, friends and family have broadband? Yes, but if they’re not part of the Web 2.0 revolution their configurations and quotas may not cope—my brother-in-law had to update his plan (not just for me, I hasten to add).

In the meantime, my business associates are assuming that sending an email is the same as me reading it, a second or two after it is sent. And then that I’ll act on it. My business associates are mistaken.

Now, I’m not saying that Web 2.0, cloud computing etc. are a bad thing. I think it is all great—I love my email clogging up Google’s servers instead of my hard disk (although palpable altruism worries me a bit—there must be a catch). But it changes the risk profile of your business if you rely on it and this risk—and peoples’ expectations—must be managed.