I have just finished reading Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams’ – Wikinomics. It is set to become the must read in the blogging community this year, and it is well worth several hours of anyone’s time.
The book which takes off where Thomas Friedman’s – The World is Flat left off last year paints a picture of the changing face of the internet and connectivity, and how the businesses that succeed in the future will be the ones that adopt and change and ride of the crest of the – dare we say it, web 2.0/social media, wave.
According to the authors the four key parts to to this success are: openness; peering; sharing; and acting globally.
Among the gems of wisdom in this book that I agree with and am often telling people in conversations are:
- “technology may open doors but it can’t force people to walk through them”
This is one that the older generation may face a lot, and can also be where companies etc who leap into this new world – and invest in a wiki for example, need to avoid then trying to force people to use the wiki. All you can do is sit back and let those who see and find value in the tool to find their own way and make their own connections.
- “end practice of trying to force employees into rigidly structured workflow tools that stifle their creativity”
This is a similar point to the one above, but the old world view. The we have microsoft word, so you will use it for EVERYTHING.
- “always strive to be best at what your customers value most and partner for everything else”
This could be a new mantra for this century. Many firms that have started outsourcing and offshoring (although not all) are doing it for this reason. They have asked themselves what their core competencies are and moved the task of doing other things to those who can do it better. Even in the online world, adding value is still a very important asset, as is your customer.
In most service industries customer churn is quite high, and despite claims to the contrary, the average firm does and spends a lot more on trying to get new customer than it ever does keeping the ones it already has. Some might say businesses moving in the job market do the same.
This new world of wikinomics could help, if companies opened up more and engaged their customers and their potential competitors. As the book rightly points out Amazon’s success is in part due to their opening up their technology and platform to others, with over 30% of it revenues now generated by third party sellers.
The story of Rob McEwen (also told in the Friedman book) is another fine example. He, as CEO of GoldMining company Goldcorp did the unthinkable. On seeing that his mines were not producing the gold he thought must be there, he released all the companies proprietary data on the mines and mining and asked the world to tell him where they should be looking for the gold. Thee was around half a million in prize money. The company made a hell of a lot more.
I am going to stop now before I get boring, but another quote from the book I liked, was that of P&G’s CEO, A.G. Lafley who said “someone outside you organisation today knows how to answer your specific question, solve your specific problem or take advantage of your current opportunity, better than you do. You need to find them and find a way to work collaboratively and productively with them”