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- Technology investor in social, mobile, cloud and big data companies; portfolio companies manage 15,000 social networks with 40 million members for 150 leading brands.
- Author and speaker: co-authored 5 books and 20 ebooks; published 1,100 articles; appeared on CNN, CNBC, NPR, and Bloomberg TV; delivered 500+ keynote speeches globally.
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Crossing the Digital Divide: Harnessing the Power of Networks to Quadruple Value
- Digital companies are in a race to create relationships with your customers.
- Disruptors are scaling up with incredible speed and accuracy in every industry and inserting themselves directly between every company and its current customers. For example, think of company Facebook pages and their related messaging which appeals to customers in the casual context of social media. Right now, some team in the world is deconstructing your company's value proposition and finding a way to deliver better value to customers by leveraging new technology and the power of networks. The key is in the power of digital networks to foster unmediated relationships with customers.
- The danger of digital disruption in your business is omnipresent.
If your company is an Asset Builder or a Service Provider, you tend to think of your competition as other, similar companies in your own industry. This is the way traditional pesticide providers competed before a seed company called Monsanto came on the scene with a disruptive technology. Since Monsanto was in the seed business, supposedly no competition for a pesticide company, the pesticide companies were outflanked, blind-sided before they knew what hit them. Similarly, the traditional music industry didn't think they were competing with a computer company, until Apple's iTunes and iPod changed the game.
But these now familiar narratives about disruptive technologies have a sequel: the power of the network. Unlike Apple and Monsanto, who were creating tangible assets, Network Orchestrators are leveraging intangible relationships to redraw the competitive battle lines.
- Companies are cresting new, digitally enabled business models that scale at zero marginal cost.
- Some companies, recognizing that networks are creating a revolution, are innovating with respect to their own business models. They’re looking at blue oceans and challenging everything. Not only must companies move to defend themselves against disruptive challenges (which may include many types of evasive maneuvers), they must also be proactive in innovating new business models. Many companies are clear on neither their own business model nor their own tangible and intangible assets. Lack of corporate self-awareness is one of the major obstacles facing traditional businesses that have not yet crossed the digital divide.
- The power of digital networks is more than just using social media.
- Every business can benefit from harnessing networks. Many companies are leaving enormous opportunities on the table simply because they've never considered their tacit network of customers, suppliers, partners, etc. Can your company print out the names of every customer? Do you know what they bought and when they bought it? Do you know who else bought it that was related to them? Do your know their habits and preferences even in areas that are seemingly unrelated to your product or service?
For example, suppose your company is an airline. Do you know how many times a year any given customer travels? Do you know what seats that customer prefers? Does he or she travel with family? Do you know where that customer travels? Most airlines will know revenue-related statistics, such as average revenue per seat. That's a useful statistic but it does not harness the power of networks that change the basis of competition and lead to exponential growth in the value of your company. Many companies are leaving opportunities on the table and leaving themselves vulnerable to disruption by failing to tap their networks. Successful Network Orchestrators ask the questions and develop relationships that allow customers to become co-creators.
- The Millenial generation (digital natives) are your future customers, employees and investors. It's time to get ready for them.
The power of networks cannot be underestimated. In the Middle East, social networks toppled governments, however we might feel about the aftermath. Many members of the Millennial generation are affiliated across the globe with specialized networks, for example with alumni of their college, that allow them to find companionship and accommodation worldwide. Networks disrupt not only traditional lines of competition and industries, they are also reaching across long-established, ancient boundaries between religions, ethnicities and geographies.