It is difficult to imagine a time before the Internet was as universal, social, and essential as it is now. But such times existed– not just before the invention of the Internet, but before its evolution as a powerful tool for business. The Internet was once a simple tool for viewing and sharing content (the World Wide Web 1.0). In the mid-1990s, it shifted into the universal and interactive tool that it has become today (the World Wide Web 2.0). And another shift is coming– a shift characterized by decentralization, user ownership, and powerful artificial intelligence. This shift will bring us into the World Wide Web 3.0, and will have profound effects on how we conduct business far into the future.
Basics of the World Wide Web 3.0
First, we have to get familiar with the World Wide Web 3.0. The World Wide Web 3.0 describes the next major paradigm shift in Internet use and technology. Experts characterize the World Wide Web 3.0 by decentralization and advanced machine learning. The shift towards the World Wide Web 3.0 is yet to occur, though many components are beginning to appear (for example, Bitcoin and NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, will be key players in the next iteration of the internet). The current era (World Wide Web 2.0) is defined by interactivity, content generation and universality.
But how does the World Wide Web 3.0 differ from the previous two versions? There are a few major components that define the dawning era of Internet architecture.
The World Wide Web 3.0 will be a blockchain-based technology, allowing data storage across many computers simultaneously. This eliminates the need for a central authority and allows easy user to user information sharing.
The next generation of Internet use will be powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence. This will allow more powerful and flexible applications, including intelligent search design. The goal of this design is to create search engines that can eventually understand a language search like humans would. These search engines can provide relevant results, rather than the current system, largely consisting of paid ads.
Without the need for regulating companies, users can participate in building and using content and interact directly with other users. This gives the users more control over the architecture development and governance as well as data and content generated online.
It’s clear that the World Wide Web 3.0 will differ significantly from the current system of content creation and utilization. The ripple effects of these changes will inevitably spread to business and marketing. These ripple effects consist of a few major components.
The current World Wide Web is ruled by a select few powerful tech companies (for example, Amazon, Google, Meta (previously FaceBook), etc.). The new World Wide Web will be created and ruled by users, giving creators the power to dictate what they want from companies both on and offline. Because users will be able to communicate directly, there will be many opportunities for smaller organizations to find niches in the growing web architecture previously occupied by current tech giants.
Blockchain transactions will create visible and unchangeable records that are visible to all users. This increases the need for corporate accountability to consumers, as well as streamlining data searchability, access, and analytics and opportunities for stronger and long-lasting consumer/corporate relationships.
Security and Privacy
In the new system, transactions and consumer interactions can occur from one computer to another, without passing through a third-party intermediary. This greatly reduces the risks of hacking and cybercrime, and can increase the data privacy and ownership. With the decentralized structure of the World Wide Web 3.0, hackers will be largely unable to access sensitive information and cybercrime will likely nosedive.
Flexibility and Utility
Though experts are still imagining what the World Wide Web 3.0 will look like, it is clear that it will greatly improve user experience and open up a variety of new fields of application compared to the World Wide Web 2.0. We might not know what this new landscape will look like, but it will certainly expand the utility of Internet usage far beyond our current imaginations.
Every new technology comes with risk. In this case, two major issues dominate the potential pitfalls of the next era of Internet use.
Because there will be no central authority, regulating Internet use will become even more difficult than it is now. Issues like hate speech and misinformation are likely to continue to expand and accelerate as regulatory power decreases and users are able to bypass third-party intermediaries.
Traditional cybercrime as practiced now will take a major hit as the World Wide Web 3.0 is born. This does not mean, however, that the Internet will become a safe place for data and privacy. Increasingly complex scams, such as social engineering and data manipulation, will overtake current practices, requiring businesses to create increasingly complex cybersecurity regimens in order to stay in front of quickly-evolving cybercrime.
Marketing in the Age of the World Wide Web 3.0
The World Wide Web 2.0 forever changed the landscape of business and marketing. The World Wide Web 3.0 is likely to do the same. Important lessons from the shift between the World Wide Web 1.0 and 2.0 are still applicable today. Industries that embraced the coming changes stayed relevant and flourished; industries that did not struggled or fell away. This is, and will always be, the best way to understand and utilize the next era of Internet use.
Staying on top of the current tech trends through thorough research, quickly adopting technology as it becomes available (with caution), and embracing flexibility and adaptability are the keys to success as the tools we use to market, engage with consumers, and conduct business continue to change. Understand and embrace technology, and you will ride the wave of innovation to success. Back away from it, and you risk losing your business to companies that are ready to embrace and welcome change. The World Wide Web 3.0 will be a powerful tool, and like previous versions of the Internet before it, it will change the landscape of business and marketing forever.