Ten Web 2.0 Trends Shaping the Future of Business

Ten Web 2.0 Trends Shaping the Future of Business

Paper by Wayne Visser

What is Web 2.0 Really?

Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as ‘web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, inter-operability, user-centred design and collaboration’. The term owes its origins to a 1999 article by IT consultant Darcy DiNucci, which challenged programmers to adapt to the spread of portable Web-ready devices. The concept was broadened out in 2005 by online media pioneer Tim O’Reilly, who gave contrasted Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 using examples: DoubleClick versus Google AdSense, Britannica Online versus Wikipedia, personal websites versus blogging, publishing versus participation, directories (taxonomy) versus tagging (folksonomy) and stickiness versus syndication, to mention but a few.

In 2006, Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams showed how Web 2.0 was set to disrupt how markets operate and how businesses are organised. They called this new paradigm ‘wikinomics’, defining it as ‘the effects of extensive collaboration and user-participation on the marketplace and corporate world’.

Wikinomics, they said, is based on four principles:

1)   Openness, which includes not only open standards and content but also financial transparency and an open attitude towards external ideas and resources;

2)   Peering, which replaces hierarchical models with a more collaborative forum, for which the Linux operating system is a quintessential example;

3)   Sharing, which is a less proprietary approach to (among other things) products, intellectual property, bandwidth and scientific knowledge; and

4)   Acting globally, which involves embracing globalization and ignoring physical and geographical boundaries at both the corporate and individual level.

Another Web 2.0 building block is Chris Anderson’s concept of ‘The Long Tail’ – named after the area of a statistical distribution curve where it approaches (but never quite meets) the axis. Anderson’s breakthrough idea was that, in a Web 2.0 era, selling less to more people is big business. The Long Tail questions the conventional wisdom that says success is about generating ‘blockbusters’ and ‘superstars’ – those rare few products and services that become runaway bestsellers.

Anderson sums up his message by saying that:

1)   The Long Tail of available variety is longer than we think;

2)   It’s now within reach economically; and

3)   All those niches, when aggregated, can make up a significant market; and

4)   The Long Tail revolution has been made possible by the digital age, which has dramatically reduced the costs of customized production and niche distribution.

Taking Tapscott and Williams’ four principles (openness, peering, sharing and acting globally), plus another principle derived from Anderson’s ‘long tail’ concept (mass customization), let’s take a look at the future of business through a Web 2.0 lens …

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Visser, W. (2013) Ten Web 2.0 Trends Shaping the Future of Business, Kaleidoscope Futures Paper Series, No. 2.

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A Test for Future-Fitness

A Test for Future Fitness:

Make it Safe, Smart, Shared, Sustainable and Satisfying

Article by Wayne Visser

Are you fit for the future? Will your product, organisation, community, city or country survive and thrive in 10, 20, 50 or even 100 years?

We live in a world that is changing faster and challenging us more than ever before. Great progress has been made in lifting people out of poverty, advancing scientific frontiers, connecting the globe with technology and making knowledge more accessible. At the same time, there are disturbing trends of increasing inequality, catastrophic destruction of ecosystems and loss of species, pervasive corruption, increasingly volatile and dangerous climate change, waves of forced migration and floods of refugees, a rise of religious extremism and the omnipresent threat of terrorism.

The question is: how can we – as individuals, businesses, communities and policy-makers – prepare for the future? How can we maximize our chances of success, not only by being ready, but also by helping to shape the future that we desire? I think it helps to view future-fitness in two ways: in terms of alignment – i.e. fitting, like a jigsaw piece, into the bigger picture of an emerging world; and in terms of agility – i.e. building up the kind of fitness that allows quick reflexes and strong performance in response to future conditions.

The biggest trends in society and our most enduring ideals suggest that there are five key criteria for future-fitness: our products, organisations, communities, cities or countries must be safe, smart, shared, sustainable and satisfying? These 5-Ss of Future-Fitness are summarised in the table below and then briefly defined in the subsequent sections …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Page[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

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Visser, W. (2012) A Test for Future Fitness: Make it Safe, Smart, Shared, Sustainable and Satisfying, Kaleidoscope Futures Inspiration Series, No. 1.

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Future Trends in CSR

Future Trends in CSR:

The Next 10 Years

Article by Wayne Visser

Looking to the future, what is needed – and what is just starting to emerge – is a new approach to CSR, which I call Systemic CSR, or CSR 2.0. This is a purpose-driven, principle-based approach, in which business seeks to identify and tackle the root causes of our present unsustainability and irresponsibility, typically through innovating business models, revolutionizing their processes, products and services and lobbying for progressive national and international policies. I have identified 10 trends:

Trend 1 – In the future, we will see most large, international companies having moved through the first four types or stages of CSR (defensive, charitable, promotional and strategic) and practicing, to varying degrees, transformative CSR, or CSR 2.0.

Trend 2 – In the future, reliance on CSR codes, standards and guidelines like the UN Global Compact, ISO 14001, SA 8000, etc., will be seen as a necessary but insufficient way to practice CSR. Instead, companies will be judged on how innovative they are in using their products and processes to tackle social and environmental problems.

Trend 3 – In the future, self-selecting ‘ethical consumers’ will become less relevant as a force for change. Companies – strongly encouraged by government policies and incentives – will scale up their choice-editing, i.e. ceasing to offer ‘less ethical’ product ranges, thus allowing guilt-free shopping.

Trend 4 – In the future, cross-sector partnerships will be at the heart of all CSR approaches. These will increasingly be defined by business bringing its core competencies and skills (rather than just its financial resources) to the party, as Wal-Mart did with its logistics capability in helping to distribute aid during Hurricane Katrina.

Trend 5 – In the future, companies practicing CSR 2.0 will be expected to comply with global best practice principles, such as those in the UN Global Compact or the Ruggie Human Rights Framework, but simultaneously demonstrate sensitivity to local issues and priorities. An example is mining and metals giant BHP Billiton, which have strong climate change policies globally, as well as malaria prevention programmes in Southern Africa.

Trend 6 – In the future, progressive companies will be required to demonstrate full life cycle management of their products, from cradle-to-cradle. We will see most large companies committing to the goal of zero-waste, carbon-neutral and water-neutral production, with mandated take-back schemes for most products.

Trend 7 – In the future, much like the Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP), some form of Generally Accepted Sustainability Practices (GASP) will be agreed, including consensus principles, methods, approaches and rules for measuring and disclosing CSR. Furthermore, a set of credible CSR rating agencies will have emerged.

Trend 8 – In the future, many of today’s CSR practices will be mandatory requirements. However, CSR will remain a voluntary practice – an innovation and differentiation frontier – for those companies that are either willing and able, or pushed and prodded through non-governmental means, to go ahead of the legislation to improve quality of life around the world.

Trend 9 – In the future, corporate transparency will take form of publicly available sets of mandatory disclosed social, environmental and governance data – available down to a product life cycle impact level – as well as Web 2.0 collaborative CSR feedback platforms, WikiLeaks type whistleblowing sites and product rating applications (like the GoodGuide iPhone app).

Trend 10 – In the future, CSR will have diversified back into its specialist disciplines and functions, leaving little or no CSR departments behind, yet having more specialists in particular areas (climate, biodiversity, human rights, community involvement, etc.), and more employees with knowledge of how to integrate CSR issues into their functional areas (HR, marketing, finance, etc.)

Collectively, these trends reflect a scenario …

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Related pages

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Page[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

Cite this article

Visser, W. (2012) Future Trends in CSR: The Next 10 Years, CSR International Inspiration Series, No. 11.

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The Future Faces of CSR Activism

The Future Faces of CSR Activism

Blog by Wayne Visser

Part 9 of 13 in the Age of Responsibility Blog Series for CSRwire.

The third principle of Transformative CSR, or CSR 2.0, is responsiveness. (We explored creativity and scalability in the last two posts). Some of the most important players in the responsiveness game – especially through cross-sector partnerships – are civil society organisations (CSOs, which I prefer rather than the term NGOs). Reflecting on how this sector is changing in the face of increased calls for responsiveness, I have distinguished 10 ‘Paths to the Future’ for CSR activism. I believe that CSOs acting in the CSR space will increasingly be:

  1. Platforms for transparency – Undertaking investigative exposes & hosting disclosure forums;
  2. Brokers of volunteerism – Providing project opportunities for employee volunteers;
  3. Champions of CSR – Raising awareness and increasing public pressure for CSR;
  4. Advisors of business – Offering consulting services to business on responsibility;
  5. Agents of government – Working with or on behalf of regulatory authorities;
  6. Reformers of policy – Pressuring for government policy reforms to incentivise CSR;
  7. Makers of standards – Developing voluntary standards & inviting business compliance;
  8. Channels for taxes – Receiving and deploying specially earmarked tax revenues;
  9. Partners in solutions – Partnering with business/government to tackle specific issues; and

10.Catalysts for creativity – Creating social enterprises & supporting social entrepreneurs.

Let’s explore these ‘future faces’ of CSR activism in a little more detail below, drawing on examples from around the world of CSOs emerging roles.

Platforms for transparency – The role of CSOs as agitators for, and agents of, greater transparency seems set to continue. For example, in Senegal, Benin, and Guinea, CSO intervention has been critical in the development of a free press. And in India, Karmayog allows citizens to report specific instances of bribery and corruption on a live, public website.

Brokers of volunteerism – As companies increasingly see the benefits of volunteerism (greater job satisfaction, productivity, commitment and loyalty), CSOs are increasingly becoming people-brokers, as sources of projects for employee volunteers. For example, the Voluntary Workcamps Association of Ghana (VOLU) coordinates volunteers to help with the construction of schools, reforestation and AIDS campaigning.

Champions of CSR – While some CSOs remain sceptical about CSR, in many countries they are the main agents for promoting CSR. For example, in Iran, a group of CSOs have joined forces with the UNDP to promote CSR through targeted training for managers under the umbrella of the UN MDGs. And in Senegal, CSR awareness has grown mainly due to a CSO called La Lumière in Kédougou.

Advisors of business – A combination of genuine expertise, valuable perspectives and a crunch on funding means that many CSOs are turning to consultancy, working with and advising companies not only on specific social and environmental issues, but also more generally on sustainability and responsibility. For example, in Hungary, as opposed to the traditional role of watchdog, many CSOs engage in consultancy on CSR.

Agents of government – The phenomena of GONGOs (government organised NGOs), GINGOs (government-inspired NGOs), GRINGOs (government regulated/run and initiated NGOs) and PANGOs (party-affiliated NGOs) are becoming more widespread, no longer just seen in China. Even where governments are not setting up or running the CSOs, they are supporting them as key …

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Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Link[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

Cite this blog

Visser, W. (2011) The Future Faces of CSR Activism, Wayne Visser Blog Briefing, 1 December 2011.

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The Future of CSOs

The Future of CSOs:

The Many Faces of CSR Activism

Article by Wayne Visser

The third principle of Transformative CSR, or CSR 2.0, is responsiveness. Some of the most important players in the responsiveness game – especially through cross-sector partnerships – are civil society organisations (CSOs, which I prefer rather than the term NGOs).

Reflecting on how this sector is changing in the face of increased calls for responsiveness, I have distinguished 10 ‘Paths to the Future’ for CSR activism. I believe that CSOs acting in the CSR space will increasingly be:

  1. Platforms for transparency – Undertaking investigative exposes & hosting disclosure forums;
  2. Brokers of volunteerism – Providing project opportunities for employee volunteers;
  3. Champions of CSR – Raising awareness and increasing public pressure for CSR;
  4. Advisors of business – Offering consulting services to business on responsibility;
  5. Agents of government – Working with or on behalf of regulatory authorities;
  6. Reformers of policy – Pressuring for government policy reforms to incentivise CSR;
  7. Makers of standards – Developing voluntary standards & inviting business compliance;
  8. Channels for taxes          Receiving and deploying specially earmarked tax revenues;
  9. Partners in solutions – Partnering with business/government to tackle specific issues; and
  10. Catalysts for creativity – Creating social enterprises & supporting social entrepreneurs.

Let’s explore these ‘future faces’ of CSR activism in a little more detail below, drawing on examples from around the world of CSOs emerging roles …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/inspiration_future_csos_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] The Future of CSOs (article)

Related pages

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Page[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

Cite this article

Visser, W. (2011) The Future of CSOs: The Many Faces of CSR Activism, CSR International Inspiration Series, No. 10

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The Future of CSR Codes

The Future of CSR Codes and Standards

Article by Wayne Visser

In this piece, I look at the lessons we have learned so far (both positive and negative) and what part CSR codes and standards play in an emerging New Governance model. Let me start with what I think we’ve learned about CSR codes and standards over the past 30 years or so.

  • Codes can be a useful activist tool
  • Codes can help to generate consensus
  • Codes can embed incremental improvement
  • Codes can change industry sectors

There are also downsides to CSR codes and standards, which we have come to realise.

  • Codes create auditing and reporting fatigue
  • Codes create confusion in the market
  • Codes can be a mask for irresponsibility
  • Codes are no substitute for regulation

With the usual caveats that the future is unpredictable, it does seem to me that there are several trends in CSR codes and standardsthat indicate the direction of their evolution.

  • Principle-based codes will consolidate
  • Process-based codes will struggle
  • Performance-based codes will strengthen
  • Sector-, product-, issue- and geography-based codes will expand

My fundamental belief is that CSR codes and standards will not disappear, because they form part of an emerging new form of governance, based on a multi-stakeholder approach …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/inspiration_csr_codes_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] The Future of CSR Codes (article)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-a-to-z-of-corporate-social-responsibility”]Page[/button] The A to Z of Corporate Social Responsibility (book)

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Visser, W. (2009) The Future of CSR Codes and Standards, CSR International Inspiration Series, No. 6.

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Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility:

An Agenda for the Future

Article by Wayne Visser

This article deals with the crucial debate that is beginning to emerge about corporate social responsibility (CSR), which acknowledges that the sophistication of stakeholder challenges and corporate responses has gone up a gear, but questions whether CSR itself is too little too late, or even a red herring.

Developing the Agenda

Geographically, there has been a recent emphasis on the challenges of corporate citizenship in the developing world, including issues of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the “Bottom of the Pyramid” concept about servicing lower income markets, and CSR in the Pacific Rim, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa. We think this focus accurately portrays the current shift in CSR concerns towards the global South, where despite the scale and urgency of development needs, determining the best way for business to respond to poverty remains extremely complex.

Although the Asian tsunami disaster in December 2004 focused attention on humanitarian relief efforts, which many companies contributed to, it is also encouraging to see corporate leaders engaged in a wider discussion about how normal business influences the poor and disadvantaged around the world and what business models could be more supportive of development. However, our analysis is that current debates about the opportunities for corporate contributions to the MDGs often lack a full understanding of processes of “development”.

Much of the profitable business with lower-income markets involves products such as mobile phones, not the provision of basic nutrition, sanitation, education and shelter, so the current expansion of profitable business in the global South does not necessarily imply poverty reduction. In addition, the type of development that is promoted by marketing consumer products to the poor can be questioned, and claims about empowering people by providing means for them to consume cannot be taken at face value. The environmental impacts of changing consumption patterns also need to be looked at, without assuming that such problems will be solved just through technical and financial advancement. And we need to assess, if more foreign companies do come to serve lower income markets, might they not displace local companies and increase the resource drain from local economies?

Exploring Relationships

How large corporations might bring their financial, technical and management resources to help local entrepreneurs improve and scale their businesses, and avoid exploitative local middlemen, is important to explore and will become a significant part of the corporate responsibility agenda. However, exploitative North-South supply chains, tax avoidance, and anti-competitive practices are fairly typical of international corporations, undermining their economic contribution to development. These economic issues have been overlooked by mainstream work on corporate responsibility, and we suggest such economic issues will become more central in future.

From an institutional perspective, various relationships in the CSR debate have been critically examined, especially the status and acceptability of partnerships between business and NGOs on the one hand, and business and the UN on the other. This examination reflects a sharp rise in the demand for organisations to demonstrate their accountability and transparency, not only business, but NGOs and intergovernmental organisations as well. The ethics of institutional engagement is …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/article_lifeworth_review_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] Corporate Social Responsibility (article)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/business-frontiers”]Page[/button] Business Frontiers (book)

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Adapted from: Visser, W. & Bendell, J. (2005) Introduction. Lifeworth Annual Review of Corporate Responsibility.

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Can We Survive the Future

Can We Survive the Future:

Only if Business Shapeshifts from Lions into Elephants

Article by Wayne Visser

Rabbit Holes and Boiled Frogs

Being in business these days is a lot like falling down a rabbit hole. The latter, if you remember Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is a chaotic and confusing place to be. All the tried and tested rules of the past don’t seem to work so well anymore. The formerly familiar environment keeps transforming itself into new, unrecognisable landscapes. Strange, distracting characters have a habit of popping up randomly and then suddenly disappearing. And the clear, rational perspectives that used to spell out solutions keep getting stretched, warped and turned on their head, like the reflected images in a house of weird mirrors.

To illustrate what I mean, the demigod once known as the shareholder has mutated into a multi-headed beast called the stakeholder. Accounting, the time-honoured introspective discipline of counting beans (or gold or money or shares), has been turned inside out and become nerve-racking accountability to the big wide world out there. And profitability, which used to be a trustworthy financial measure, has multiplied into a triple bottom line by blurring together economic, social and environmental performance.

To survive in this whirlwind of chaotic change, companies have become adept at rapidly adapting to dramatic changes. What business has been less skilled at doing is recognizing or responding to long-term effects of gradual changes. In this sense, it displays the classic “boiled frog syndrome”. If a frog is placed in boiling water, it immediately jumps out providing it is free to do so. However, if the water temperature is cool to begin with and then gradually increased, the frog fails to register any threat to its well-being and consequently allows itself to be literally boiled alive.

There are many examples of threats that could boil the corporate toads: creeping income inequality; the spread of HIV/AIDS; marginalisation of certain regions in the world economy; the cancerous burden of Third World debt; alienation of people with low incomes or no jobs; accelerating biodiversity loss; global climate change; rising chemical concentrations in the Earth’s water systems; disintegration of cultural identities; and the spread of violent crime among the youth, to mention but a few.

Trading in Fangs for Tusks

At the heart of all of these challenges is one of the most profound drivers for step-change in business and the world – sustainability. Sustainability refers to improving human well-being by seeking a proper balance between social, economic and environmental change over the long term. The old ways, which have dominated for the past century or more, are no longer appropriate for a post-industrial, sustainability-driven society. Sustainability is not only a new scientific, political, social and legal concept, but an entirely new business philosophy based on a new mythology. It requires that business think differently about its role in society and how it goes about what it does.

The changes needed in order for business to survive and thrive in an age of sustainability are so fundamental that they are akin to changing its identity, its underlying nature. At the moment, we  …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/article_survive_future_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] Can We Survive the Future (article)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/beyond-reasonable-greed”]Page[/button] Beyond Reasonable Greed (book)

Cite this article

Visser, W. (2002) Can We Survive the Future? Only if Business Shapeshifts From Lions into Elephants. Namaste, Volume 19, October.

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