No Barriers – limitless, permissionless, and trustless – decentralization, openness, and greater user utility – that’s what Web 3.0 is all about.
Web 3.0 has been around for over a decade but its definition has evolved over the years. While there is no standardized definition for now, in 2011 when Tom Jenkins, executive chairman of Open Texta talked about his predictions and the impact that it would have on businesses, he defined it as the “Semantic Web”.
“Semantics is the study of reference, meaning, or truth.”
According to Google, Semantic Web is defined as “an extension of the World Wide Web through standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium.” Today, Web 3.0 is defined by Investopedia as follows: “Web 3.0 represents the next iteration or phase of the evolution of the web/internet and potentially could be as disruptive and represent as big a paradigm shift as Web 2.0 did. Web 3.0 is built upon the core concepts of decentralization, openness, and greater user utility.”
A very high-level definition could be that Web 3.0 is a “read-write-execute” web; in contrast to its previous iterations wherein Web 2.0 was “read-write” and Web 1.0 was “read-only”. Initially, Web 3.0 started as Semantic Web. The “Semantic Web” is defined by Forbes as “systems that allow internet information to be machine-readable.” This Semantic Web has over the years morphed into a more Blockchain-based technology and has evolved tremendously.
The good news is that businesses need not worry; these evolutions and technological advancements are equally relevant for businesses and the future of commerce.
Let’s start from the top – Web 1.0 “the birth of the internet”.
Web 1.0 – “Read-only” – When the internet first started, it had no interaction capabilities. In this era, users could view static pages on the internet – they would search for XYZ, and they would be able to view information about XYZ. These pages that felt like “read-only” were static, and only displayed pre-loaded info and nothing more. The internet was similar to one big Wikipedia. Users were consumers; they could only consume information; they could not share, like, or add comments. They simply consumed the information that was available to them. In this era, you could read about a product but you could not buy it online. There was no concept of configurations and customizations. Your searches were limited and there wasn’t a lot of specific data for you to consume. Since Web 1.0 was low bandwidth, it took a long time to process data. There was only so much businesses could achieve; even though products and businesses became discoverable globally, online transactions were not possible. The user experience was unsatisfactory.
Web 2.0 – “Read and write” – This evolution changed the static web to the interactive social web. Web 2.0 started in 2004 and we’re using it today. The internet has since then evolved a lot. Blogs and Wikipedia enabled users to read as well as write content, publish it, share it, and like it. The interaction capabilities in this era opened businesses as well as customers to numerous opportunities. In Web 2.0, a large amount of content is user-generated. Most of this data is controlled and monetized by large companies like Google and Meta. People are able to communicate and collaborate across continents, share content and information, buy and sell products or services and so much more every day – which means that businesses have since then been able to improve productivity and services significantly. They are able to better understand and cater to their customers and target market. Web 2.0 expanded the way people could now put products on the web and their products could be searched globally – but not bought online; still, awareness was created. Initially, configurations, pricing, and quoting were done via spreadsheets, which of course lacked the ability to give and receive immediate feedback. Web 2.0 came with substantial limitations; one of which is security and lack of privacy. With the advancement of tech, security vulnerabilities have also made their upgrade. What’s more, Web 2.0 has lost one of its core values which is decentralization. At the moment, the internet is dominated by Google, Facebook, Amazon, and a few other giant companies. The internet was originally meant to provide everyone with equal access to data and to communicate. Instead, these large organizations are today collecting our data. The most dynamic developmental change that has occurred is the interactivity of the internet. This means that we not only get information from pages, but the pages also get information from us. This means essentially that as you view Facebook and Youtube and performed Google searches, these centralized companies started collecting data about you so that they could serve you better content and so you would stay on their websites for longer. Web 2.0 began to create real-time expectations for information, ordering, and delivery, for businesses. This became a real driver for sales enablement, automation and systems like Configure Price Quote (CPQ), to enable businesses to deliver solutions and meet the expectations.
Web 3.0 – “Read, write and execute” – Also often called the “Semantic Web”, Web 3.0 is the iteration of the web that is focused on decentralization. Interestingly, while many believe that Web 3.0 came after Blockchain technology; that is not the case; Web 3.0 existed prior to Blockchain and is not a recently coined term. There were talks about Web 3.0 in the year 2009 – that’s 3 years before Blockchain emerged! The emergence of Web 3.0 has enabled businesses to truly digitally transform. With the evolution of technology, customers and their buying behaviors have also evolved; there is an increasing need for specific information about increasingly complex things and that has made it mandatory for the Internet to become a better source of updated information. Agility and robustness then have become the need of the hour, and are crucial for your success as you grow into these new technologies and worlds. In the Web 3.0 world, people can make purchases and execute their transactions via the web. This is where digital transformation and digitized systems (for example SaaS and CPQ systems) come into play and many of these systems are also today able to support other innovations like cryptocurrencies and different asset types. Web 3.0 came into existence with even more dramatic shifts to real-time information and fulfillment.
“The goal of the Semantic Web is to make Internet data machine-readable.” This means that Web 3.0 lays the groundwork for computers to understand what the data means and utilize artificial intelligence to develop and to make full use of the information.
Web 3.0 is the World Wide Web with advanced interaction capabilities. With elements/technologies like Semantic Searching, Knowledge Base, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Inter of Things (IoT), Machine Learning (ML), and Machine to Machine communication, Web 3.0 is a personalizable place with intelligent search and behavioral advertisements where content is generated by machines rather than human beings. It’s a world where virtual items or information become more valuable than physical items. Web 3.0 applications and services would increasingly be powered by Blockchains, crypto-assets both fungible and non-fungible, AI, ML, metaverse and the omniverse. Innovative technologies that are trademarks of Web 3.0 include the likes of Google Glass project, Augmented reality and advanced mobile technologies; Cloud computing, 4G technologies, hyperconnectivity. In addition, with the Internet of Things (IoT), today twice as many devices are connected to the Internet than people in the world which is adding all kinds of new complexities to businesses – it’s creating all sorts of new data, products, and solutions that are available to companies. Web 3.0 is expected to provide personalized content and enable people to be in control of their data. Instead of handing over your email and password to a large company, you will be able to login securely and anonymously all over the internet without being tracked using an internet identity “a smart contract for your data”. This internet identity will allow you to authenticate with an identity anchor, which could be a security key or facial recognition. By logging in this way, it is much harder for hackers to hack into your data since there isn’t a centralized place like a company’s database, where all of your data is stored. This implies more security and control for everyday internet users. The business implications of Web 3.0 are revolutionary; as can be seen in The Evolution of Web X.0 table.
Web 3.0 is limitless, permissionless, trustless, and much more intelligent.
Is Web 3.0 as big as it gets? Not really. There’s a vision for a 4th iteration of the web as well – Web 4.0; a vision that dates back to 2010. Web 4.0 is the next anticipated incarnation of the Web after Web 3.0 and is expected to be “autonomous, proactive, content-exploring, self-learning, collaborative, and content-generating agents based on fully matured semantic and reasoning technologies as well as AI. They will support adaptive content presentation that will use the Web database via an intelligent agent. Examples might be services interacting with sensors and implants, natural-language services, or virtual reality services.”
Will Web 3.0 supplant the previous/current versions? It is highly unlikely – by the looks of it, company overlords like Facebook, Twitter, and Google will probably jump on the bandwagon to stay relevant; but will obviously have to make huge strategic changes. In this new world, we will be the owners of our content. The ultimate power is no longer centralized at companies collecting, and to an extent owning our data; it’s in our hands.
Web 4.0 – Web 4.0 is expected to be a ground-breaking Web that envisions to fully capture the human experience. While Web 3.0 is often dubbed to be “the future”, we can only imagine the capabilities and the B2B business implications Web 4.0 will bring. Some Web 4.0 will be machine to machine discovery; which means that systems will begin to auto-fulfill, auto-configure, auto-recommend solutions for businesses. In addition to marrying the human interaction and traffic.
With all of these evolutions in the Web, buying behaviors have changed significantly over the last few years.
People are being exposed to almost infinite options – we can now find information about products from all over the world. Previously, our ability to find information used to be localized to our universe but now the web seems to have opened up beyond it. We are now able to make recommendations, source products globally, and use them as inputs in creating your solutions. Solutions and products are being built in a new manner. Ultimately, the vision behind Web 3.0 and 4.0 is machine self-discovery and configuration – really enabling digital transformation, in simple words. Products will configure themselves, price themselves and sell themselves – with little or no human intervention. In these times, you need solutions that can deal with this huge inventory of new solutions; things like NFTs and Blockchains are ways to trigger transactions and ways to buy and sell different asset types.
Previously, business functions were largely dependent on spreadsheets. Today, however, we find that the need for a more agile and flexible Configure Price Quote system, which is ideally a no-code/low-code platform, has never been greater. Traditionally CPQ systems integrated different models of payments. Today, it is even more difficult with payment structures like Cryptocurrencies and NFTs; this makes CPQs like servicePath even more essential in the future; as the ability to manage these in a static, traditional spreadsheet would be nearly impossible. The reality is that organizations are an aggregation of old technologies and new and improved, growing technologies. The systems then need to be able to still be able to span future and legacy environments. Meaning they must be compatible with the traditional pre Web and Web 3.0 technologies like spreadsheets and dynamic purchasing websites.
In the future, computers will be (are) actually able to recommend solutions to companies who are building solutions – these recommendation engines and self-discovery capabilities exist today. The sophistication and intelligence in these systems is extraordinary. In the future, CPQ systems will also need to be able to consume machine-built recommendations and product configurations in addition to contributions by product managers, staff and employees. In the era of Web 1.0, it was not possible to have an online CPQ solution. The CPQ solution would live and exist on your machine on your private network; it could not be shared. The future is interconnectivity.
As technologies advanced, Software As A Service (SaaS) became mainstream because the information today is so much richer. In the future perhaps we could have sales enablement solutions like robust CPQ systems that use AI to create their own products and solutions based on information from the internet and make suggestions. These systems will not only suggest products to customers to buy, but also suggest solutions to companies to sell – businesses may just go through a complete metamorphosis.
Some key considerations for your business as we evolve to Web 4.0:
It will be important to align your organization with CPQ and sales enablement platforms that will be (or are) ready for these potential impacts and where the market is going. Furthermore, the past is not going away. Data still resides in flat files and spreadsheets which one could argue is pre-Web 1.0. This data is to be married and combined with the exciting developments from Web 4.0. It is imperative your vendors can integrate the past and the future together. As part of your digital transformation strategy, addressing all of these components is essential. servicePath CPQ+ enables organizations to embrace the future of change. With servicePath’s advanced and easy-to-use Configure Price Quote platform, teams are able to pull in all sorts of disparate data feeds – new, emerging, and legacy.
The Evolution of Web X.0:
|Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly (Web X.0)||Features||B2B Business Implications|
|Web 1.0 – “read-only” web||
MSN Messenger, Internet Explorer, Google, Yahoo!
1,000,000 Websites (Read-only) 6,000,000 Users
|Web 2.0 – “read-write” web||
25,000,000 Websites (Read-only) 19,000,000 Users
|Web 3.0 – “read-write-execute” or Semantic Web||
100,000,000 Websites (Read-only) 250,000,000 Users
|Web 4.0 – “read-write-execution-concurrency” or Symbiotic Web||
An even enhanced :
|While we have yet to learn about the business implications of Web 4.0, some predictions can be made today: