The next generation of web technology will transform the way businesses work within five to ten years, research by management consulting firm Booz&Co predicts.
Web 3.0 will offer businesses unprecedented capabilities to connect and communicate with customers, and to mine data about their online activities, it claimed.
Companies need to start thinking now about how to structure their business to take advantage of the potential of Web 3.0, said Danny Karam, senior associate at Booz.
"Once this big wave of data hits these companies, they are going to be faced with a twofold choice: are we going to work out how to leverage it, or just sit and wait for the wave to flow over us?" he said.
- The power of Web 3.O. Click here to download this report from Booz&Co (requires registration).
Web 3.0, dubbed the transcendent web, will bring together social media, the semantic web (which will enable much more sophisticated searching), the internet of things (a network of web-connected devices), and artificial intelligence technology.
The result will be a personalised browsing experience for individuals and a flow of data that companies can apply to product development, sales and marketing, and other business operations, says Booz.
"It is still in its nascent stages, but imagine tomorrow if information is much more focused, giving you much more personalised information on the customer," said Karam.
Businesses are already using transcendent web elements
Although Web 3.0 is still a few years away, cutting-edge businesses, particularly in retail and online media, are beginning to adopt the elements of the transcendent web.
Amazon is using artificial intelligence to provide recommendations to customers based not only on their own browsing and buying histories, but also on the behaviour of customers with similar histories.
Best Buy has added semantic technology to its website to allow search engines to find detailed data on its product pages, gaining a 30% rise in traffic.
Dell has created an online community of a million users, who help it test products and provide feedback on their performance and design.
And research programmes are underway to combine the internet of things with the semantic web to improve company supply chains and develop cross-selling opportunities.
Prepare now for Web 3.0
Booz urges businesses to start preparing now by developing their IT systems, hiring talent and restructuring their organisation to take advantage of Web 3.0.
"It is still a long way off, but a good strategy is to start preparing for it. That could come at an organisational level, in terms of capability building, and the technical level, by adopting open data systems and moving to a real-time rather than asynchronous model," Karam said.
Businesses should also think about ensuring they have the right skills. There is already a huge demand for data scientists who are able to work with large chunks of data to find meaningful information, he said.
And Booz advises businesses to adopt a "lean forward" attitude to customers, by creating an online dialogue about company products and services. They should capture the information produced, and use it to refine products, services and marketing, said Karam.
"The online medial and retail industry will be extremely impacted by the transcendent web, and should harness it sooner rather than later," he said. "Be prepared, at least in using the power of information from social media."
Sign up to Computer Weekly to download more reports from Booz&Co:
- Booz CIO briefing: Web 2.0 - lead now or get out of the way
- Booz CIO briefing: How social media and apps are transforming e-commerce