At a recent roundtable debate hosted by IT consultancy Conchango, industry experts discussed the impact of Web 2.0 technology on businesses and the challenges firms face in differentiating themselves and generating revenue in a rapidly evolving market.

While many recognised that the Web 2.0 concept has been the subject of a lot of PR hype, there was general agreement that it is also strongly connected to a growing trend in society where users are becoming much more demanding, and to an extent dictating the technology solutions they want to see.

“We are in a chicken and egg situation because the whole premise of the internet is changing,” explained Graham Benson, IT director of The Web Factory, which powers Play.com. “Because it’s now mainstream [and mature], technologists are reacting to what the customer wants rather than telling them what they want.”

This has partly resulted in greater focus on the user experience, and on building more inclusive relationships with customers, for example by inviting user reviews of products and comments on corporate blogs. And because users are demanding information more quickly, firms are incorporating RSS feeds so that visitors to their site can pull the information on demand, rather than have it pushed out to them, he added.

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