Web2.0 and tradition | FirstRain

Web2.0 and tradition

I sat in on a great panel at the Web 2.0 Summit yesterday. We had executives from the health care, legal and media spaces discussing The Challenges Faced by Traditional Industries Embracing a Web 2.0 World.

I discussed FirstRain’s perspective on what we’ve seen in the financial services world. In this world the challenge in adopting a Web 2.0 platform like ours — which we’re seeing big momentum on — is working past the strong cultural bias toward established, authoritative content providers to consider Web 2.0.

Our clients typically believe that the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times and sell-side research will cover the majority of the qualitative information that they need to know every day. Our client is also typically risk averse about their research process. It’s worked for them in many cases for 20+ years and they don’t want to change. So it takes time and effort to get them to open up to the fact that there is relevant, original, useful, and unique alternative research coming out of user-generated sources like blogs.

I also talked about the level of junk on the web and how our system removes it through a series of processes, both human and automated. My fundamental belief is that the buyside demands very high quality and that is a key to our making our customers successful.

As a panel we also talked about what had surprised us selling Web2.0 services to our traditional customers and where we thought the world was going. I discussed both the level of service our customers require, and the coming era of transparency. Both mean that we need to have a very hands on support process for our customers so that their FirstRain usage is configured both to their topic needs, and that they don’t miss anything that impacts their investment strategy.

The other panelists were all interesting, but the one I found most interesting was the GM of a Thomson division called FindLaw.com. This is a service that helps consumers find lawyers, and the most challenging thing Chris Kibarian talked about was getting lawyers to go on line. Lawyers are an inherantly conservative group and often not very tech savvy so he was very amusing describing what they go through to bring up web sites for law firms. The consumer is much more online typically than the lawyer and they’ve been delighted to see the rapid adoption of services like video and social networking within their clients web sites.

All in all – a good experience.