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2011: Facing the outcome of what the Internet has changed

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You may remember back at the time of the first internet boom the popular phrase ‘the internet changes everything’, and how it appeared it hadn’t when the bus arrived. Today, a decade in real-time and several generations in technology time, it seems that the phrase had some truth in it, so I was surprised to read at the History News Network (tagline: ‘Because the past is the present, and the future too’), Marshall Poe telling us that ‘the Internet changes nothing’. He is something of an authority on communications and the author of the well regarded book History of Communications. His argument is that we didn’t have a revolution, but an evolution in changing what we do with our time as connectivity and formats have become pervasive. Although it’s well put together, it left me feeling something was wrong in the argument and on carefully rereading I found it in the phrase “on the Web, you can get what you want and be pretty sure you won’t get caught getting it. That’s terrifically useful”. Is that really true? Doesn’t seem so if as a comparison you read Eurozine’s ‘Twelve Theses on Wikileaks’. This is a very very thoughtful piece, at the end of which my conclusion is that we are living in a changed world, and the big changes have been introduced by the personalisation of the web rather than the connectivity of the Internet;

  1. A shift in focus towards people, individually and in crowds, and away from organised resources
  2. Transparency in every aspect of society is increasing around this shift at the same time as rigid organised privacy is decreasing
  3. And for business this can be summed up as a shift towards ‘servicing relationships’ requiring ‘innovation’ in their ‘go to market’ business models
We all know that before buying something we will do our online homework but how much has that, or is that changing? First how do you decide on what to buy? Well marketing has always had the role of informing people what is available to buy and why it’s the best. The best for whom and in whose opinion? It’s the resource driven model selling what is manufactured and distributed en masse rather than the increasing shift towards the ‘people like me found this to be exactly right’ approach of the new web 2.0 community model. It’s not only the ability of the product to satisfy it’s also the level of satisfaction with the service level of the supplier that counts too. Price comparison sites may lead with a price comparison but they also carry ratings on the supplier and comments on the product these days. The challenge in 2011 for large enterprises is not how well you do it en masse in the market against your own comparison with competitors, but how well you do it for individuals in their judgement. It turns out that another of the key phrases of the first internet boom ‘dis intermediation’ was accurate too, but again not quite in the way that it was defined at the time. To be successful in many of the growth market areas today means the dis intermediation of your own enterprise by decentralisation. So what can we expect in 2011? A split in the use of technology and activities around two aspects;
  • Maintain IT for its core role in the operation and management of an enterprise internally at lowest cost
  • Focus on business technology to ‘service’ customers and markets externally to achieve increased revenues and margins
IT may have the bigger role and budget, but business technology is likely to have the bigger successes in the eyes of business managers. Social CRM, the science of using the web to achieve ‘relationship service’ to meet new expectations coupled with real-time data analysis will be at the forefront of this revolution. So it’s time to get out of the office and the budget meeting and see what’s going on elsewhere!! Here is an excellent piece on understanding the parts of social CRM to start with from Mashable.com.

About the author

Andy Mulholland
Andy Mulholland
Capgemini Global Chief Technology Officer until his retirement in 2012, Andy was a member of the Capgemini Group management board and advised on all aspects of technology-driven market changes, together with being a member of the Policy Board for the British Computer Society. Andy is the author of many white papers, and the co-author three books that have charted the current changes in technology and its use by business starting in 2006 with ‘Mashup Corporations’ detailing how enterprises could make use of Web 2.0 to develop new go to market propositions. This was followed in May 2008 by Mesh Collaboration focussing on the impact of Web 2.0 on the enterprise front office and its working techniques, then in 2010 “Enterprise Cloud Computing: A Strategy Guide for Business and Technology leaders” co-authored with well-known academic Peter Fingar and one of the leading authorities on business process, John Pyke. The book describes the wider business implications of Cloud Computing with the promise of on-demand business innovation. It looks at how businesses trade differently on the web using mash-ups but also the challenges in managing more frequent change through social tools, and what happens when cloud comes into play in fully fledged operations. Andy was voted one of the top 25 most influential CTOs in the world in 2009 by InfoWorld and is grateful to readers of Computing Weekly who voted the Capgemini CTOblog the best Blog for Business Managers and CIOs each year for the last three years.

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