The Web has happened in a really big way, and most organizations have not adapted to the way it has changed the world. But they will.
Organizations take time to change and adapt. That's the one big lesson I've learned since I started in the web business back in 1994. It's easy to stand on the outside and pontificate about what needs to be done. It's much harder to drive the necessary change within an organization, no matter how well managed that organization is. And the larger the organization is the harder that change becomes.
However, it is a big mistake to think that change is impossible simply because it is very slow, or has stalled for some reason. We in the web business are often too impatient, too annoyed with those who don't get it. We often get bored with a continuous focus on the basics and want to be constantly pushing boundaries and moving forward. Maybe the web pioneers who helped develop a web culture within their organizations are not the people who will grind out the continuous improvement that is necessary to make the web a truly integral part of the organization.
"Americans would rather keep their Internet connections than keep their cell phone or television service," commented CNN in June on the latest Pew Internet Project study. "Despite the souring economy, more and more Americans are buying high-speed Internet service, the study found -- and the most dramatic increase in broadband adoption has been in groups that traditionally use it less than average."
In a recession, Americans think having access to the Internet is more important than having a TV or a cell phone. Could that be true? Could that be remotely true? Think for a moment. Think how iconic and integral to life the TV has become. And the cell phone is not far behind. Surely nobody could live without a cell phone?
The Internet has become pervasive. People over 65 are using it 58% more than last year, according to Pew. That's a huge increase. Low-income Americans, people who make $20,000 or less, have increased their usage by 40 percent. These are very big percentages.
Very few traditional organizations truly understand how important all this is. The Internet is a tsunami of gigantic proportions that has washed over all of us. It has changed how we live and work. It has made us feel more empowered, more informed, more connected. Using a search engine has become a daily activity for millions.
Yet, how many organizations professionally manage search? How many dedicate the appropriate numbers of employees to focus on helping their customers (and fellow employees when it comes to an intranet) find the right content quickly? Very, very few.
This is not meant as a criticism, but rather as a statement of opportunity. Organizations do not manage search today because 20 years ago they didn't have to. They have not had time to adapt to the new world of the Web. But they will, and if you're patient and determined, you will help them. No matter how frustrated you might feel at times, always remember that with this Internet, you're onto a really good thing!