New Opportunities in Communication, Production, and Distribution
Online social networks are no substitute for face-to-face interactions. Their strength lies in allowing you to collect information about the network you already have. The technology lifts the veil off of preexisting relationships when connections hidden or lost over time are suddenly revealed. It also allows you to extend your network to individuals who are just outside your personal network but with whom you share common friends, colleagues, and ideas. Social networks provide the tools to control the information flow between you and your network, and can help you yield more from your relationships with other people. Imagine how amplifying your ability to connect with people and maintain relationships could create a competitive advantage and higher economic performance for you and your company.
As my friend John Perry Barlow reminded me, a few generations ago, there were a lot of people in the railroad business who didn’t realize that what they really did was transportation. So when the airline business came around, they didn’t have the sense to get into it. You have the same thing here. None of the current winners in business are going to win in the next 30 to 40 years if they don’t have the sense to invest in and harness the power of social networks.
The new and open world of socially enabled business provides greater opportunities and more chances to succeed. For most companies, the opportunities tend to be centered in the realms of communication, production, and distribution. Improve your communication by opening the channels both within your company and externally, and you improve the relationship between you and your community. Enhance your distribution abilities by taking advantage of the often viral nature of message dissemination and the natural tendency of online communities to cluster into dedicated groups. Develop new possibilities for production using technology that allows your preexisting community to work with each other on products that can benefit your company directly. Learn the natural order of the socially networked world and then decide how to get out there and make it work for you and your business.