As Web 3.0 makes gains and technologies such as blockchain mature, the internet will change, and business will have to evolve with it. Web 3.0, also known as Web3, offers better security and brings transparency and accountability to the forefront.
With the transition from a static Web 1.0 to the interactive and dynamic Web 2.0, businesses have been able to grow and innovate with access to a global market. However, in order to understand where the internet is going with Web 3.0, it's important to see how it's gotten where it is today.
History of the web
Tim Berners-Lee set up the first web server in 1990 and created the Word Wide Web. Back then, the internet community was limited to government and military researchers and college students.
Web 1.0 is a term used to describe the earliest versions of websites. The Domain Name System (DNS) didn't exist and users visited websites via their IP address. For example, instead of typing in techtarget.com in the URL bar, you had to enter 184.108.40.206. Websites were simple displays of text, images and links. Users couldn't edit the data, and it was non-interactive. Web 1.0 was characterized by simple HTML designs to display text and images.
The early days of the web were a time when users were consuming content, not generating it. Pages had to be as small and lightweight as possible because it was the era of dial-up computing, and websites could take minutes to load. Because Web 1.0 was before smartphones, it was only accessed by desktop computers.
The Web 2.0 era began around the start of the 21st century. The hallmark of Web 2.0 is interactivity. Pages were no longer static but dynamically generated for the user. The pages were larger and more complex as broadband expanded its reach. Streaming music and video became increasingly common.
With Web 2.0 came the advent of user-generated content. It started with precursors to social media, such as GeoCities, before Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram took off. Web 2.0 allowed considerably more user input and engagement through blogs, tweets and social media networks.
The definition of Web 3.0 is slowly coming into focus. For starters, Web 3.0 aims to be fully decentralized, putting content creation in the hands of the creators and not platform owners. In many ways, this is what Tim Berners-Lee originally envisioned when he created the web.
Components of Web 3.0
Web 3.0 consists of the following five notable features:
- Semantic web. The semantic web uses AI to understand what a user or customer may mean or intend, thus enhancing and improving the accuracy of the experience. It's designed to improve web technologies in order to generate, share and connect content through more accurate understanding of searches based on the meaning of words, rather than on keywords or numbers.
- Artificial intelligence. It's not unusual for users to search for a keyword and receive unrelated results. The AI of Web 3.0 is designed to better understand what it is users are searching for and give more relevant answers.
- 3D graphics and spatial web. There were attempts to make a 3D representation of the web and websites dating back to the 1990s. However, the graphics were primitive, slow and failed to catch hold. With advances, including virtual reality, 3D graphics allow the creation of a more realistic online experience. Some industries have already incorporated 3D graphics in the promotion of products and services, such as special events and branding.
- Blockchain and cryptocurrency. Blockchain and cryptocurrency technology are inherently part of the Web 3.0 world. The hallmark of Web 3.0 is decentralization and giving greater control to content creators. Blockchain and cryptocurrency eliminate middlemen and allow for direct transactions between parties. Blockchain helps make Web 3.0 more transparent and secure while cryptocurrency eliminates intermediaries, such as financial institutions.
- Ubiquitous connectivity. Web 3.0 applications are characterized by ubiquitous connectivity thanks to broadband, 5G and IoT, which help access information from a variety of devices and not just the PC.
Business benefits of Web 3.0
Web 3.0's impact on business will be transparency and user/customer-orientation. Therefore, the way in which businesses use users' data will change. Because blockchain is at the core of Web 3.0, all web apps will require a blockchain upgrade if they want to play in Web 3.0.
Some of the benefits of Web 3.0 for businesses include the following:
- No third party required. Blockchain, smart contracts and decentralized applications eliminate third-party service providers. For example, cryptocurrency reduces the need for banks, and all financial transactions are between the two parties only. This will help businesses to reduce costs and be more competitive.
- Improved regulation compliance. Blockchain is an unchangeable record of transactions visible to everyone on the chain. Thus, it makes it easy for companies to comply with their governance requirements by maintaining transparency.
- Greater accountability. On the other end, thanks to blockchain, every transaction can be tracked to make companies accountable for their actions. This makes it easier for people to buy products from the businesses with a positive reputation.
- Improved security. Web 3.0 makes it much harder for hackers to access sensitive information. Because of blockchain's decentralized and distributed nature, there is no single point of failure, which makes it more difficult to corrupt. Blockchain data cannot be altered or manipulated, so businesses will be able to worry less about data theft and data breaches.
- Improved customer relations. When using Web 3.0, every transaction is recorded in the decentralized ledger for all parties involved to see, making companies directly accountable to their customers. Businesses can use this transparency to build trust and long-lasting relationships with their customers. Because data stored on blockchain is unchangeable, customers know that the information is authentic and has not been modified.
- Supply chain management. Businesses can easily monitor and track their supply chains on Web 3.0 due to blockchain's transparency. By eliminating silos, businesses can quickly identify any problems in manufacturing and delivery services, improving time management and reducing cost. Businesses can also share crucial information, such as production schedules and contract deadlines, with their suppliers, making delivery smoother.
What does Web 3.0 mean for business?
Web 3.0 technologies can help to improve transparency and trust between businesses and their customers by creating a tamper-proof record of transactions via blockchain. With a real-time view of the supply chain, customers can see where their products are at each stage of the production process.
The distributed nature of Web 3.0 means it is both safer and cheaper. Thanks to decentralization, user data is not stored in one place, which makes it less vulnerable to attack or loss. Because it is decentralized, Web 3.0 apps do not require expensive servers and data centers. Instead, they can be run on a network of computers provided by end users.
Web 3.0 uses cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin and Ethereum, to make transactions occur in real time. Transactions aren't going through banks, which may take days to process an international purchase. A cryptocurrency transaction can take place in minutes, if not seconds.
Web 3.0 also makes social media considerably safer. For starters, users have ownership of their data instead of the social media network. Therefore, users can prevent their personal information from being sold. Secondly, it will inhibit the use of bots and fraudulent accounts, as wells as trolling and spamming. This will help lock out scammers and other disreputable online sellers.
Likewise, it will curtail fake news and fabricated new stories, which can be damaging to a company's reputation. Disreputable news sources will no longer have to be verified through a third-party source, which can be also disreputable. With Web 3.0 apps, such as Prover, users can verify a news source through its blockchain.
The decentralized nature of Web 3.0 and lack of central servers means fewer opportunities for network downtime, which can equal critical losses of business.
Web 3.0 is still in the developmental stage, and new companies using the technology are only now beginning to emerge. Businesses should keep an eye on its progress to capitalize on any opportunities as Web 2.0 phases out and Web 3.0 becomes the norm.