Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Globe and Mail carried a story late this afternoon on "Sick of slow service, customers walk"
....Canadian consumers are abandoning their shopping carts, delaying purchases and leaving stores, public transit stops and restaurants in significant numbers...
The timing was right for me, as I abandoned a Best Buy purchase of cables and CDs due to a long line-up at the cashiers, and walked over to Future Shop. There the store manager noticed a building line-up, opened a new cash, and got my $230 quickly.

The thing is:

a) Best Buy now owns Future Shop
b) It was implementation of Best Buy policies that fixed the long line-up problems that used to plague Future Shop.

However slow service is not the number one problem for our retailers: it is the sick Canadian pricing. The latest CD from The Verve, out today:

$7.99 Amazon.com (US)
$18.99 (2 to 3 weeks delivery) Amazon.ca
$11.99 Best Buy.ca
$13.99 Future Shop.ca

Instead of this, I bought the Brazilian Girls latest "New York City": wonderful, and the track Good Time is the best power pop in a while. I must be one of very last still buying CDs, but my plans for buying an iPhone were screwed by the Canadian pricing.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Web 2.0 Inclusion, Web 3.0 Every{what/where/way}

In Web 2.0, we saw the move to "Internet as platform", and pervasive user collaboration, including social-networking sites, wikis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0) , and blogs like this.

There continues to be discussion of what will Web 3.0 be - for example see the limited view of:


My opinion is that Web 3.0 is Every{what/where/way}:

- On a wide variety of electronic devices (PCs, notebooks, PDAs, phones, watches, cameras, TVs, etc.)
- Has everything worth knowing: wiki-maxed

- On every electronic device of $100 or more
- Available anywhere there are a few people or more

- On a wide variety of electronic devices in various forms
- In a wide variety of formats, with many customable views - networked, filtered, visual

Web 3.0 = Every{www} for everyday
Exclusion -> Inclusion

The business models based on exclusion are in ruin, while the models based on inclusion continue to adjust to best advantage.

For the content business such as Music/Books/Movies/TV/Newspapers, the exclusion model was:
- Isolate/select to a few
- Erect and maintain barriers
- Hype/brand the few

It was no wonder that businesses continued to use the exclusion model, as it was:
- Successful
- Manageable, controllable
- Predictable

However the model results in:
- Formulistic, uneven content
- Slow to react/deliver
- Unconnected/divorced from the consumer

In the era of consumer mega-choice, content businesses need to harness the power of crowd content. This is not straight-forward.

Say, for example, we had a TV show called 2 1/2 Friends. Following the Exclusion model we have:
- Shallow pool of potential writers
- Editors to keep consistency
- Return unsolicited scripts and input unopened, unused, avoiding legal and tainting concerns
- Marketing to heighten viewer interest

For the Inclusive model, we consider:
- How to open it up?
- How to use parts of flawed scripts, ideas, suggestions
- Who gets paid and/or acknowledged
- How to filter to find what's best

We could consider an expanded role of agents as intermediaries, and the use of Web 2.0 crowd software with idea gathering/voting. This might then, for a single 2 1/2 Friends show, have:
- Situations for plot line taken from three ideas/mini-treatments contributed by independent sources
- 40 dialogue lines taken from suggestions, and tweaked
- Character development as voted by the fans

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Start-up Failure

It's painful to see a start-up close up its door knowing the financial, emotional, and time investment of everyone involved. All that's left is a sad little notice from the start-up that ends all the dreams.

It may seem that start-ups could benefit from the consumer advocate approach mentioned in the last post, but any start-up would not have reached the maturity necessary for consumer-oriented best practices to be implemented into a proven business model. Instead, a start-up is left fumbling around to find one or more business models that potentially will work, and the focus of the start-up has to be on discarding misleading and flawed models while locking into one or more promising ones.

Thus start-ups need more of a business advocate instead of a consumer advocate approach. Another term for this is the business angel, a guiding force to mentor the start-up executive team. The business angel often will have to turn the start-up away from the initial unsound business model and towards a model that will be successful. This is usually done instinctively, and thus business angels need to have proven track records. Start-ups that don't take advantage of business angels, or advocates, are doomed to stumble around in a hit-and-miss lottery-ticket approach to staying afloat.

Returning to large companies, and the need for consumer advocates, it is interesting to draw a parallel between the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and companies that become primarily internally facing - let's reinterpret the criteria from a business perspective:
  • grandiose sense of importance
  • preoccupied with unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal technology
  • believes company is "special" and unique
  • requires excessive admiration
  • has a sense of entitlement
  • is financially exploitative
  • lacks empathy with consumers
  • is often envious of other companies or believes companies are envious of them
  • shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Certainly a few of these factors could be considered positive if isolated, but the whole package would be a poor placed company for long term business success.